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Southwest Ridge via North Supply Trailhead
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Southwest Ridge via North Supply Trailhead

 
Southwest Ridge via North Supply Trailhead

Page Type: Route

Object Title: Southwest Ridge via North Supply Trailhead

Route Type: Hiking, Mountaineering, Skiing

Season: Summer, Fall

Time Required: A long day

Difficulty: Class 2

Route Quality: 
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Page By: Scott

Created/Edited: Aug 9, 2009 / Aug 9, 2009

Object ID: 538901

Hits: 1967 

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Overview

This is probably the easiest route up the mountain. The route offers great views throughout its length as well. From the North Supply Trailhead, the route accesses the Blue Ridge via one of several routes. The route then more or less follows the Blue Ridge to the saddle above Bowen Lake and then accesses the summit of Cascade Mountain via its Southeast Ridge.

Southwest Ridge
Kessler high on the Southwest Ridge of Cascade Mountain.

Getting There

On Highway 34 between Granby and Grand Lake, turn west onto County Road 4 between mile markers 9 and 10. Follow County Road 4 to a junction and turn right onto Forest Road 120, a.k.a. Kauneeche Road. Follow Forest Road 120 for 9.3 miles to the North Supply Trailhead. If you wish, there is a signed jeep road to the trailhead as well, but the main Forest Road 120 is good enough for 2wd passenger vehicles driven carefully, though there are several big potholes on the road. Park at the North Supply Trailhead.

Cascade Mountain
This is the gentle South Ridge of Cascade Mountain as seen from the approach to the Bowen Lake Saddle.

Route Description

From the trailhead, follow the trail for less than half a mile to a junction. Turn right here on the Blue Ridge/Wolverine Trail. Just after this junction is another one. You can take either trail, but for the sake of this route description, take the left fork first. Not far after this junction, turn right onto the Continental Divide Trail and head up the steep trail to yet another junction near the top of the ridge. Turn right here and follow the ridge north. Pass the junction with the Lost Lake Trail on the left and continue north along the trail. There are some nice views all along the way. After less than a mile you will reach another junction with the North Supply Trail (which is the recommended descent route on the way back). The trail continues up the Blue Ridge and trends west to the west side, staying on that side of the ridge all the way to the Saddle above Bowen Lake. Instead of descending Bowen Lake, turn left and continue along the ridgeline. This trail eventually passes close to the summit of Cascade Mountain, but never does reach the summit. When the trail fades away (near a snowbank that last well into August and sometimes year round) you have the choice of either to continue contouring around the mountain before making the final climb to the east or by heading up to the ridgetop right when the trail fades away. Once you reach the ridgetop you can climb directly over a false summit to the true summit. Enjoy the spectacular views from the summit which stretch forth in every direction.

From the summit you can immediately head back the same way, or climb some other peaks (including Ruby Mountain) to the north.

From the summit, another alternate route is to descend back along the ascent route to the saddle above Bowen Lake. From the saddle, continue south along the Blue Ridge to the junction with the Blue Ridge and North Supply Trails. From here, turn left and down the ridge on the North Supply Trail which near the trailhead reaches the ascent route you took up, making a semi-loop.

This route is about 11 miles round trip and has about 2300 feet elevation gain. The last part of the route is only class 2 and is rather easy in comparison to many of the mountains in the area.

Summit of Cascade Mountain
Kessler on the summit of Cascade Mountain looking south.

Essential Gear

In summer, only a good pair of boots and normal hiking gear is needed.

Images

Cascade Mountain and Bowen Lake