Folks dashing up Idaho 55 to McCall or Riggins often sail right through Cascade, but theres a lot more recreation there than its namesake lake.
Last week I explored the Cascade area and found it packed with outdoor adventures for all tastes and skills from mellow to wild whether you hike, float or ride.
EAGLE NEST TRAIL 111
Stunning views of Long Valley, Davis Reservoir, Lake Cascade and West Mountain greeted me as I mountain biked a portion of this intermediate to advanced trail. Deer, elk and moose tracks were visible in the soft dirt, and a fresh pile of berry-laden scat was proof of what bears do in the woods.
The trailhead is located off Warm Lake Road, which is to the east after the bridge on the north side of Cascade. Travel 2.8 miles to the large pull-off next to Davis Reservoir. The trail starts near the stone marker Eagle Nest on Joshua Drive, which is across from the pull-off. Look for the small sign TR111 located in the tall grass. The trailhead is at about 4,800 feet in elevation, which means cool summer riding.
I rode 6.8 miles out and back, climbing 1,750 feet between the Warm Lake Road trailhead and the intersection with Forest Service Road No. 400.
Eagle Nest trail is open to hikers, mountain bikers, horses and motorcycles, but I did not see anyone during my weekday morning ride.
The trail passed through a grassy meadow next to the Forest Services Crawford administrative site then quickly climbed into the forest dotted with granite boulders. It was a steady uphill ride to the ridgeline, passing through public land managed by Idaho Department of Lands and the Boise National Forest.
The trail was clearly marked and well maintained. Occasionally it went on an old logging road. During steep or rocky sections I pushed my bicycle.
At 3.4 miles from the trailhead, I arrived at the junction with Forest Service Road No. 400 and turned around. The trip back was a quick and fun downhill to the trailhead, though I walked my bike through intimidating rocky sections and around sharp turns.
A longer ride is possible. Continue along Trail 111 for about 6 miles beyond the intersection with No. 400 road to an intersection with road No. 411A, then on to the Needles Route trailhead about a mile farther. Look for the Eagle Nest high point at 7,646 feet in elevation.
Friends in Cascade told me they have a driver take them up Warm Lake Road and then up the 400 road to the intersection with trail No. 111. They then bicycle down the trail to Warm Lake Road. Hardy bikers can ride the whole 10-mile loop.
CASCADE RIVER WALK
Stretch your legs on a scenic, family-friendly walk or bicycle ride on the path along the North Fork of the Payette River. The trail goes between bridges from Fischer Pond Park at the south end of Cascade to the Waters Edge RV Park north of town.
This is an easy, flat trail thats 2 miles one way. Its paved the first half mile then gravel the remainder. The trail passes Kellys Whitewater Park, where you can watch the kayakers play on the waves and do trick in the holes.
If youre with kids, you can turn around and come back on the trail, or if youre comfortable riding in traffic you have the option of riding through Cascade and back to the park.
Combine your hike or ride with a stop at Fischer Pond and enjoy a picnic lunch and view the aquarium. You can also try your luck fishing at Fischer Pond, which is stocked with trout.
Jessica Schlerf from Gilbert, Ariz., walked the trail with her sons Logan, 3, and Ethan, 2, while other family members fished at the pond. We liked the fun educational area with the trees, the park and the playground, she said.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Cascade. Cross the bridge on the south side of town, turn right (east) into Fischer Park.
TUBE, KAYAK AT KELLYS WHITEWATER PARK
Summertime is ideal for cooling off in the rapids at the park or during a float on the 1-mile flat-water section from below the park to the bridge.
The park opened in 2010 and rapids were created on an otherwise flat section of the North Fork of the Payette River adjacent to Cascade.
Five river features within the water park create waves where kayakers, inner tubers, surfers, canoeists and boogie boarders enjoy the whitewater.
You have the option of floating through the rapids or putting in below them for a 1-mile float down to the Cascade bridge.
You can rent a tube or kayak from Gear & Grind next to the park, or get a tube rental in the park on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays noon through 5 p.m. Tube rentals are $8 for 2 hours, $10 for 4 hours and $12 per day.
If you dont want to get wet, you can watch kayakers flip, spin, surf and roll on the waves, walk around the landscaped grounds and visit the 2,660-square-foot Welcome Center and learn about the history of Valley County.
If you want to see kayakers compete on the waves, visit the park on Aug. 18 and Sept. 1 for the Hometown Throwdown starting at 11 a.m. each date.
For more about the park, go to kwpid.com.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 into Cascade. Turn right into the park entry just before the railroad tracks.
For more information about Cascade, go to cascadechamber.com or call (208) 382-3833.
Natalie Bartley is a freelance outdoors writer and the author of two trail guidebooks. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.