This wonderful hike has it all: beautiful scenery, a spectacular waterfall, and tons of history. A visit to Cascade Falls will take you into the Pigeon Lake Wilderness, with the option of doing a loop around the lake or just an out-and-back.
Lake Cascade Camp, a girls camp, once stood on the northern shore of Cascade lake. It was built in the 1930s and was used until the mid-1940s. Close inspection along the path may revel remnants of the old camp. The primitive campsites along the north shore mark where the camp once stood. You'll even follow follow the old route to the camp around the lake: much of the trail follows the old road and is a wide path.
Around the halfway point of the loop is the waterfall, a 40-foot wonder that is worth the trip itself. A well-worn side trail leads about 100 feet to the base of the falls. The falls themselves are nearly vertical and are stunning. Since this feature is about half way through the hiking loop, it makes for a good place to rest. Sit on the rocks near the base and enjoy the sights and sounds of the waterfall.
How to get there
From Inlet, follow Route 28 toward Eagle Bay. Here, turn right onto Big Moose Road. Follow Big Moose Road for just about 1 mile to the large trailhead parking on the right.
By the numbers
- Distance: 5.5 miles for the entire loop
- Elevation gain: a minimum 300 feet
The trail starts out following the course of Big Moose Road and quickly comes to the old trail, which started slightly further back up the road. The trail never climbs or descends too much, but when it does it is at a gentle pace. At roughly 1.1 mile there's a split in the trail — this is the Cascade Pond Loop. Either direction works fine, but we will describe a counter-clockwise loop.
The southern portion of the loop never approaches the lake very closely, but it is close enough to see through the trees. There are multiple bridges along the trail to avoid wet areas. You will cross four bridges over these wet areas before you reach the waterfall around 3.0 miles. A side trail leads 100 feet to the base of the falls. In any season, they are a great sight. Please be careful if approaching; the area around the falls may be slippery.
Once past the falls, the trail climbs to higher ground. The trail does approach the water's edge on a few occasions on the northern trail, which leads through the site of an old girls camp. Around 3.6 miles is where you will find the remnants of the camp. The trail eventually comes back to the intersection at 1.1 miles from the trailhead, where you will follow the same path you came in on before returning to your vehicle.
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing
The winter parking here is snowplowed for 12 cars and offers a great place for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Even though it is not professionally groomed there seems to be enough use that the trail is tracked in on most days.
Cascade Lake offers four or five well-hidden locations to fish trophy bass along the footpath surrounding the shore. With a bit of determination you can find the perfect spot for bobber and worm casting.
It also offers bird watching of species that include warblers, Hermit Thrush, Wood Pewee, Winter Wren, Barred Owl, Broad-winged Hawk, and Hairy, Downy and Pileated woodpeckers.