Begin the trek on the winding path of the Cascade Trail, and you'll experience a journey through one of the most popular hiking areas in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. This protected area offers tall ridges, valleys, creeks, and waterfalls resting among the thick alpine forests and vast grasslands. Views stretch for miles, and when you hike here with Fido, you'll find a thin trail varying from compacted soil, crushed stone, and sand. Camping is allowed with a permit. Be sure to tote wqter with you, as well as clean up bags for your pup.
The trail begins on the top corner of Monarch Lake in the Arapaho National Recreation Area. After paying a fee, you'll find paved parking available, along with restrooms, a water fountain, and trash bins to use. The trail begins right near the shore of the lake, and follows the entire northern shore for its first mile and a half where the trail remains even and steady. After this portion, the trail begins to ascend pretty rapidly, with sharp inclines that begin to climb into alpine forests as the trail follows the Buchanan Creek.
The trail offers a number of great features and sights, from Shelter Rock that offers a cover with rock lips, open fields and wildflowers, the Cascade Falls at the 4-mile point in the trail, wildlife viewing opportunities, and ponds and smaller lakes that offer fishing and swimming for humans and dogs. Climbing through the steep inclines of the mountains will offer some of the best views in the area. At the last mile and half, you'll have to pass through 27 different switchbacks that can be steep to climb, but also offer the most amazing views in the entire wilderness once you're at the peak.
The trail ends at the Shoshoni Peak, along with a ridgeline that also includes mountains like Toll Mountains and Pawnee Mountain. After absorbing all the views, you and Fido can make sure to head back down the switchbacks safely, and back to your car.