According to Mr. Wasatch, this is “one of the toughest, least visited peaks in the Wasatch” with “only two possible routes, both long and difficult”.
There is no trail on the West face approach of Cascade Mountain that we took. Good thing we had a guide, Randall! He once rescued a hiker stranded on the edge of a 200 foot precipice on this mountain, during a snowstorm. If you go without a guide, bring extra water because you will probably have to backtrack for several hours after you find yourself at the top of one of the many impassible cliffs of the area. If you don’t know this mountain, that is almost a certainty.
There are several ways to get to Cascade Mountain. From Provo, Utah, we drove North on University Avenue into Provo Canyon, turned right on Squaw Peak Road, drove 2.1 miles past the entrance of the Hope Campground and parked.
Part 1: bushwacking in a rainforest-like area. Wear long pants!
Randall marks the bushes with marking tape, to help us find our way down.
Part 2: climbing East up a mile-long chute filled with scree. Better have good shoes and good joints!
Part 3: go north across a forest. Lots of leg-scratching bushes! Wear long pants! Then head east up towards the top again through a forest of aspens. See more pics on my Facebook.
Part 4: We rest and enjoy the view to the West: Utah County! The big green peak on the right is Squaw Peak. Left of it, the back of Y Mountain. So green! Keep climbing another 30 minutes to the top ridge, between the two summits.
South Peak of Cascade Mountain, Utah
North Peak of Cascade Mountain, Utah
My favorite hydration backpack: the very innovative Geigerrig RIG 1600, built with the toughest ballistic nylon you can dream of. Their slogan: you don’t have to suck.
We went without a GPS, so I do not have any coordinates to give you. See more pics of this Cascade Mountain hike, including an overall view of Cascade Mountain from Utah County, on my Facebook page.
Hiking Cascade Mountain is very intense. Overall, the round trip took us 7 hours (including 2 hours spent admiring the scenery). From the parking spot to the top of the mountain was between 2 and 3 miles: two hours uphill at an average of 50% grade, sometimes reaching 70%. Coming down was INSANE, especially in the scree!
CONCLUSION: very strenuous. Only the very physically fit, with excellent muscular and cardiovascular endurance capabilities, should undertake this hike. I would not recommend bringing children under age 12 on this hike unless they are accustomed to extremely difficult terrain. The three main difficulties of this hike are: 1. you’re either bushwacking or stepping on very loose rocks. The loose rocks require you to expand additional energy to fight gravity. 2. Very steep incline 3. No marked trail. These factors also make this a very fun hike if you are fit and well equipped.
1. About half of this hike takes place inside a West-facing scree-filled chute. Whatever you do, AVOID finding yourself in that chute when temperatures are high and the sun is shining from the West (e.g. summer afternoons). In that chute, rock surrounds you from three directions and amplifies the heat felt from the sun. We walked up the chute at about 7 am and back down around 1 pm on a cool spring day. If hiking Cascade Mountain in the summer, be sure to leave the summit before 10 am to be out of the chute by noon.
2. There is no water on the West face of Cascade Mountain. Bring all the water you need, plus extra water you will need when you get lost (quite a possibility if you don’t have a guide! )
3. Wear hiking BOOTS, not just hiking shoes. The steep downhill return trip is murder on the toes! Good boots allow you to hold back the top of your feet and help prevent “jammed toes”. I learned this the hard way… I prefer light-weight shoes but for my next steep downhill hike on loose terrain, I will wear these lovely Keen boots.
4. Only bring superfit people on this hike or they (and you) will be miserable. See remarks above about steepness and very loose terrain.
5. On the way down, you will be tempted to come straight down from the North Peak (and end up at the edge of an impassible cliff). Instead, you should come straight down for the first 15-30 minutes, then hang a sharp left towards the south, cross the bushy forest and end up in the scree chute. Later, you will see the cliffs you barely avoided on your right … (I really need to get a GPS so I can give you more precise directions!)
6. When we went, on June 9, 2012, we experienced strong wind in some areas. Be sure to pack a windbreaker jacket even during warm weather. Obviously, bring more layers for colder days.
7. I ended up using my hands a lot while scrambling up and down the scree. I wish I’d worn gloves.
8. When to go? This is a West-facing hike. Avoid being there in the afternoon of a hot day! I recommend going at the break of dawn and being back down by lunch. Alternatively, you could make it an overnighter and come back early the next morning, but be sure to bring all the water you will need. There is no water on that mountain! Seasons-wise, Spring has the advantage of cool temperature and the possibility of snow on the summit. So beautiful!
9. If you go, please let me know how it went! Even better, write a trip report on http://www.summitpost.org/ and send me a link!
After a good night sleep, I can’t wait to climb another peak, preferably one without a trail. I would love your recommendations!
Links of articles about Utah Cascade Mountain:
– Cascade Mountain via the same scree chute we took, except these guys got lost a few times and took a very convoluted route. Great read!
– Cascade Mountain via South Ridge by SummitPost member Mr. Wasatch.
– Cascade Mountain via South Peak of Cascade Via Big Springs and South Ridge by SummitPost member Vanman798.
– Cascade Mountain via Dry Fork by SummitPost member Aprovance.
– Grr Couloir (aka White Cascade Couloir) of Cascade Mountain by SummitPost member Rock-Ice.
– Cascade Mountain via the trail under Freedom Peak.
– Cascade Mountain via Bunnel’s Fork, Dry Fork and Dry Fork again.
– Another excellent report of Cascade Mountain via Dry Fork.
– Cascade Mountain by ski! Not many route details but gorgeous photos!
– A photo of Cascade Mountain viewed from Orem, Utah.
– A photo of the Canyons of Utah County, viewed from the valley floor. Cascade Mountain is visible, though not labeled.
– A small database of mountains in Utah County, with elevation.
– Another list of Utah County mountains, peaks and summits.
If you know of any other useful articles on Cascade Mountain, please let me know! I will gladly add its link to this list!