Hiking to Cascade Lake, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Cascade Lake in Yellowstone National Park was a hike I had heard about many times, but never (until this year) had the time to do it.
We were lucky and ended up with some extra time, so we just one morning decided to do it. We didn’t check the weather report, we didn’t try to see if we could get Internet service to see what Cascade Lake looked like — we just parked the truck in the parking lot located 1.5 miles north of the Canyon Village on the Great Loop Road at the Cascade Lake Trail Picnic Area, and started off.
This trail is such a wonderful hike — because of its beauty, and how easy it is.
The trail begins by dropping down through some trees, and there is a fork not far from the start of the trail. Turn to your left at this fork. Turning right will take you back up to the main road. As you follow the trail after your left turn, you then enter an open meadow. The trail follows the edge of this beautiful, expansive meadow for a long ways, until you enter the forest again. Watch my video to see the beautiful meadow.
A bit into the forest, you will reach a fork. You can either go left, or right. Someone had knocked down the sign that pointed to Cascade Lake, so we had no idea which way to go. Luckily, someone was coming down from the right, and they told us they were coming from Cascade Lake. So be sure to turn right at this point if you want to get to Cascade Lake. Turning left will take you to the other parking area for the lake, the Cascade Lake Trail parking area, located a half mile west of Canyon Village, between Canyon Village and Norris Junction.
You will pop back out of the forest not far after the fork, and walk through the center of a large, beautiful meadow all of the way to the lake. You can pretty much see the lake as soon as you exit the woods. This is Cascade Lake. It is a small, pretty, open lake, with trees around 3 edges of it. Watch my video on this section of the hike here.
The entire trail is pretty much flat, well-worn, and easy to walk upon. This is a great hike for people of all ages.
Cascade Lake is known for its fishing, particularly for cutthroat trout and grayling.
We set up a spot to eat our lunch in the woods just off the trail near the lake. We were having a great time, thoroughly enjoying our lunch, when we were heard thunder rumble. Looking to the west, the sky was gray, lightning was flashing, and thunder was making itself known. My husband said to me, “Did you check the weather forecast today?” Um, no. No, I didn’t. I ALWAYS check the weather forecast. Especially since we had a our little one. I don’t mind a little rain, but I am scared to death of lightning, and I most certainly do not want to be stuck in a lightning storm.
We debated for a minute whether to try to wait it out, but the entire sky heading for us was dark.
We threw everything into our pack and started running back. We saw several people joining us on the trail behind us, clearly trying to outrun the storm as well. We got rained on a little bit, but we were lucky and the lightning stayed just south enough of us for peace of mind. We got to our truck just in time, though!
The sign from the trailhead warns of a bear frequenting the area — but the only problem we encountered was a bison that had made its home right along the trail! He stood up when he saw us coming, so we ended up having to walk out and around through the meadow to get around his territory and let him be. As soon as he determined we weren’t a threat, he settled back down into the nest he had made in the dirt.
Remember, this is BEAR COUNTRY — so be sure to carry bear spray, and make noise — we clapped a lot to be sure a bear in the area would hear us coming.
If you have time and are near Canyon Village, the hike to Cascade Lake in Yellowstone National Park is flat, pretty, and peaceful.
Warm Wishes from Big Sky Country,
Alex M. Neill
Montana Vacation Blog