About “Cascade Creek Falls”
“Cascade Creek Falls” was a name I made up for this waterfall (hence the quotes) as it was one that I never expected to see. You see, when I did the the hike to the neighboring Terraced Falls, I expected to see people on the trail given that there were at least 4 or 5 vehicles parked at the Cascade Creek Trailhead. However, when I did the entire hike without seeing one person, and there was only one car left at the trailhead when I returned, I was left wondering where all those people went. So when I looked around the trailhead, I managed to find a different path that followed along Cascade Creek. And eventually, that narrow trail led me down to an impressive cascade, which you can see pictured at the top of this page! It was definitely bigger than any one of the cascades seen on Cascade Creek during the Terraced Falls hike (I’m guessing it was on the order of at least 100ft in cumulative height), and it possessed an interesting twisting and turning characteristic so I felt compelled to give this waterfall its props by coming up with this page.
Given its unsigned nature, it was hard to tell if this waterfall had a more legitimate name. It didn’t appear on any of my maps nor did it appear on Google Maps as of this writing. From what I could tell, this waterfall didn’t even appear on my copy of the book The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery, which was most surprising of all. Heck, I wasn’t even sure if this waterfall belonged to Yellowstone National Park or the Targhee National Forest. Yet with the use trail that led down to the falls from the far right corner of the Cascade Creek Trailhead Pullout, it was clear that plenty of people knew about it. Heck, I even saw trace amounts of litter in the form of a plastic water bottle and an aluminum can, which further reinforced that notion. In any case, I merely followed the narrow trail about 450ft before I reached the view you see at the top of this page, which was looking across towards the upper half of its overall drop.
The informal trail kept going downstream as it eventually leveled out amongst a bunch of fallen trees. At this point, further scrambling was all off-trail though there were some faint paths here and there, but I was pretty much on my own at that point. And after about a quarter-mile from the Cascade Creek Trailhead, I was downstream enough to look back upstream at a more distant view of the so-called “Cascade Creek Falls”. This vantage point exhibited the twisting nature of Cascade Creek over the impressive cascade though it didn’t seem like there was reasonable creekside access for a swim or for wading further upstream to climb parts of the waterfall itself.
So after having my fill of the cascade from this spot, I scrambled my way back to the narrow trail, then climbed back up to the trailhead. Overall, this short half-mile round-trip scramble (though I only needed a quarter-mile round trip to reach the first and closer view) took me about 30 minutes. I bumped up the difficulty score due to the off-trail scrambling and the dropoff hazards in some spots.
The “Cascade Creek Falls” shared the same trailhead as Terraced Falls at the Cascade Creek Trailhead. In order to get to this trailhead, we had to drive west on the unpaved Grassy Lake Road for nearly 14 miles (about an hour drive) west of Flagg Ranch. The road became unpaved just past the bridge over Polecat Creek. The road had a few rough patches with potholes and some water-damaged ruts, but it was otherwise doable by passenger vehicles. The Cascade Creek Trailhead was about 2 miles further west of the dam holding up the Grassy Lake Reservoir. There was parking for a handful of cars by the trailhead, but there was also some spillover parking spots on the opposite side of the Grassy Lake / Reclamation Road.
For some context, Flagg Ranch was about 2.5 miles south of the South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, 55 miles (75 minutes drive) north of Jackson, and 72 miles (under 2 hours drive) southeast of West Yellowstone, Montana. While Flagg Ranch was also a mere 48 miles (over 2 hours drive) east of Ashton, Idaho, it was on the Grassy Lake Road (also called the Reclamation Road), which was said to be pretty rough the closer to the Idaho border you go. I’ve never taken the Grassy Lake Road west of the Cascade Creek Trailhead before so I can’t say much more about the road conditions.
For additional geographical context, West Yellowstone, Montana was 58 miles (at least 90 minutes drive) south of Gardiner, Montana, 90 miles (over 90 minutes drive) south of Bozeman, Montana, 108 miles (under 2 hours drive) north of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and 321 miles (about 4.5 hours drive) north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
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