The Iron Mountain Trail #242/ Cascade Falls Trail #242-A arises at the entrance to the Cascade Campground on Highway 135 in the Lolo National Forest. When the campground is open, from mid-May through October, there is parking just inside the entrance, along with a toilet and hand pump with potable water. In the off-season, hikers can park on the road and walk the 100 yards to the trailhead.
This short hike comprises the first 1.2 miles of the 7-mile long Iron Mountain Trail #242, and leads to 2 scenic overlook outcroppings where you can view the furtastic Clark Fork River Valley Canyon from above, along with the top of the Cascade Creek Falls. It ascends rapidly through a thick pine forest with several rock-scrambling areas requiring good hiking shoes. Following along a historic wagon route that was once used to haul silver ore from the Iron Mountain mines to the valley floor, this multi-use trail attracts walkers/hikers and runners, mountain bicyclists in the spring, summer and fall, and cross-country skiers and snowshoers in winter. Shaded benches are provided at the outlooks for hikers that want to rest and contemplate the river valley that was formed 12-15,000 years ago by a glacial lake. Some of the views along the way are limited by the forest vegetation and the topography of the place, but the overlooks feature the best vistas on this part of the trail.
Wildlife abounds in the Lolo National Forest, and you're likely to see a few of the canyon and mountain denizens along the trail or from the overlooks. Grizzly and black bears live here, although they're seldom seen. Bighorn sheep climb the rocks surrounding the overlooks, and deer and moose can frequently be seen in the valley. With over 1500 plant and 300 bird species, including ospreys and eagles, you and your pooch will enjoy the nature surrounding you on this brief hike.
If you and your fur-pup are looking for a short day-hike that will challenge, this is the trail for you.
This short hike features a steep ascent and descent, with rocky terrain. Good boots and perhaps a hiking stick are recommended.