Birding · River/Creek · Wildlife
Parking is limited for this trail. There is NO Parking allowed anywhere on Anemone Hill Road (just below the trailhead). There is usually room for several cars on Park St. next to the creek. Otherwise, you must park on Emporia Street and walk up Park Street and Anemone Hill Road to the trailhead.
The Heizer Trail begins climbing immediately at the signed trailhead and hardly relents until it reaches the top of Cascade Mountain, nearly 2 miles and 1,900 vertical feet later. About 50 feet after you pass the Heizer Trail sign on a tree, you'll veer left and switchback sharply to the right. This will be the first of about 15 or so switchbacks on the way to the top of Cascade Mountain. The first mile passes under a pleasant canopy of spruce and pine with excellent tread and plenty of shade that will be welcome on hot summer days. At about a mile, the canopy opens up to a southeastern exposure through a grove of Gambol Oak, affording views of the town of Cascade that you just ascended from and canyons of Ute Pass. This point marks the beginning of the steepest part of the ascent, where the grade ratchets up to 23-40 percent for the next 0.7 miles.
Continuing on, the tread in this area is replete with crushed Pikes Peak granite, marble-to-walnut sized and fairly deep in places, making the ascent more challenging for a few hundred yards until you re-enter the spruce/pine canopy. The end of this steep 0.7-mile stretch is marked by a rocky overlook on your right with breathtaking views of a thousand-foot-deep canyon with Cascade Creek at the bottom. At this point you've climbed about 1600 feet and are just over a quarter of a mile from the top of Cascade Mountain. You'll know you have finally arrived at the 9,387-foot summit when you round a bend to the left, and the trail finally levels off at an open area with the summit boulders on both sides.
Beyond the summit as the trail begins to descend on the south side of the mountain, you'll notice that some trees marked with orange blazes (vertical stripes), presumably to mark the path in an area where the trail was once less defined or is prone to the development of social trails. From the summit, the trail continues about a mile, descending about 500 feet to a T-junction at the aforementioned FS Trail 713 at North Fork French Creek. This is the official end of the Heizer Trail.
Flora & Fauna
Coniferous forest with occasional spots of Gambol Oak on the ascent from town. The trees were a bit thinner on the south side of Cascade Mountain as expected. Wild turkeys, mule deer, mountain lions, and black bears are known to roam the area.
Shared By: Warren Paul