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Rockies :: Banff-Louise :: Cascade Fireroad

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View from the porch of Stoney Creek Ranger cabin at 13.5 km.  Second (not used) building lower right; North end of Cascade Mtn. upper left

Abstract

Overall Difficulty D2/3 Mostly flat with minor ups/downs.  Usually trackset during X-country ski season.  Recommended as ski (or bike) trip only. 
Snow Factor S2 Road travels valley floor far away from mountain slopes. Possibility of iced sections around km 10
Scenery Good views of Cascade Mountain on descent from Minnewanka parking.  Elaphus Peak and Cascade creek from Stoney Ranger cabin
Trail/Marking Excellent Old fireroad with no route-finding issues.   Start from MInnewanka road is not marked
Suggested Time varies Depending on skiing ability and how far you want to go.  3-4 hrs to the bridge at km 6, full day for Stoney Creek Cabin
Elevation Start: 1490m     Max: 1700 m    Total (to cabin):  +390m, -190m Round Trip: ~27km (Stoney Creek Cabin)
Gear x-country ski gear (or mountain bike in summer)
Water Cascade creek.  Carry no more than 1L
Dog Friendly No Dogs not practical for x-country skiing trip.  In summer this is horseback riding route & dogs are not advised

 

Gallery

Skiing Lake Minnewanka Road with great view of Cascade Mtn.

View back to Mt. Inglismaldie from start of Cascade Fireroad

Bridge at km6 and optional turnaround point

Stoney Creek Ranger Cabin at km 13.5

Descent from Fireroad to the Cabin

Stoney Cabin History

View down Cascade River. Cascade Mtn. upper right

Telephoto of north end of Cascade Mtn from Ranger Cabin

 

 

Summary

Cascade Creek Fireroad is one of prime cross-country easy skiing trips in Banff National Park.  Road is mostly flat; main elevation gain is near the start from Minnewanka road and it is very gentle.  For winter trips it is usually  track-set in both directions to the bridge at km6;  beyond it is often just single track.  With full day on disposal it is worth skiing to Stoney Ranger cabin for good exercise as well as bit of history of Banff NP. Valley is well sheltered and safe in winter conditions.  In summer it is good mountain-biking trip, but be aware that it is also popular horse-back riding route.  Expect company on sunny winter weekends.

 

Park at Lake Minnewanka.  In winter old Minnwanka Road is closed, so you will have to drive in via Two Jack Lake.  Walk around the gate and ski down the road to first major curve;  Cascade Fireroad starts on the right (north) side.   Ski (or cycle) up the road. Incline is gentle for ~2km and then completely flattens out. At km 6 brief descent brings you to the bridge over Cascade River;  this is usual turnaround point for shorter half-day trips.  Continuing on the other side going is pretty much similar.   For next couple of kilometers there is often some debris from trees that considerably slow you down on skis.  Around km 10 portion of the road is sometimes iced and caution is needed;  you might have to take skis off. Finally just past km 13 watch for side spur descending to Cascade River on the left side to the Stoney Creek Ranger Cabin.   There is horse coral, outhouse and second building (not used).  Cabin is often vacant and locked; if using the porch for your lunch break, please leave no trace behind you.

 

If you have extra time and energy, Fireroad is usually trackset for another ~1km to the bridge over Stoney Creek.  Return is the same way and it will be faster as there is more downhill