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By Ruffin Prevost
If you’re looking for an easy day hike that offers a great trip through a wide range of terrain, then give the Cascade Lake trail a try.
Starting from the Cascade Lake Trail picnic area about 1.5 miles north of Canyon Junction, follow the trail through a combination of forests and meadows, marshes and springs. It’s about 2.2 miles to the lake, so the round trip is less than 4.5 miles. There are a few hills and rises here and there, but nothing that will leave you huffing and puffing too much.
You might consider taking your fishing pole, as Cascade Lake is home to cutthroat trout and grayling. (Check at the Canyon Visitor Center for details on a fishing license, maps, flies, lures and bear spray.) Also, take along your camera, because there’s a decent chance you’ll see some wildlife along the way. I’ve often seen bison and moose around the lake, but you could also see elk, bears, coyotes and more.
The trail can be muddy early in the summer and buggy almost any time it’s warm, so plan accordingly. The lake and surrounding trails are also great spots for wildflowers.
There is a spur trail from the lake running up to Observation Peak with great views of the Hayden Valley and much of the center of the park, but it’s quite a strenuous hike, especially compared to the Cascade Lake trail.
If you end up enjoying your day hike to Cascade Lake, keep in mind that you can always return for an overnight backcountry trip at one of the campgrounds there, as well as continuing on to Grebe, Wolf and Ice lakes along similar terrain.
Ruffin Prevost lives in Cody, Wyo. where he works as the editor of Yellowstone Gate.