Cascade Springs Trail

excerpted from our book

Salt Lake City's Incredible Hiking and Biking Trails
pages 315-317

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Cascade Springs, Utah Cascade Springs, Utah

     At less than a mile in length, the Cascade Springs trail system constitutes one of the shortest walks in this book, and, furthermore, getting there requires one of the longest drives from Salt Lake City. Many Salt Lake residents will wonder if the short walk is really worth the time required to get there, but let me assure you that it is indeed worth the drive. This gorgeous riparian area is a rare gem of nature that we are fortunate to have so close to Utahís largest population center, and the Forest Service has done an admirable job of constructing a trail system that allows visitors to appreciate its natural beauty while protecting it from damage.
      The Cascade Springs trails consist of a series of paved paths and boardwalks that cross over the pools at the beginning of the walk and ultimately loop around the spring that is the source of the water. Benches are present at several key points, and a series of interpretive signs explain the hydrology of the area and identify many of the plants and animals you are likely to see. The Cascade Springs walk should be a leisurely one with many stops along the way.
      From the parking lot the Cascade Springs trail descends a short distance to a series of clear, shallow pools below the springs, where native brown trout can be seen swimming lazily through beds of watercress and other plants. These fish were not planted by the Forest Service, but are believed to have originally migrated from the Provo River. Three raised boardwalks loop over the pools, providing visitors with an intimate look at the plant and animal life in the ponds. Look for the small plaques that identify many of the plants, such as birch, Oregon grape, columbine, box elder, scouler willows, and others.
      Above the ponds the Cascade Springs trail comes to a small footbridge that marks the beginning of the second loop. From there you can walk around the 300-yard loop that encircles the creek to the next bridge where the final loop around the spring begins. In some ways the final loop is the most interesting part of the walk. As you will see, the water bubbles up out of the ground on the west side of the loop at a prodigious rate. The Forest Service estimates that 7 million gallons of water flows out of Cascade Springs every day. It is interesting to note that the temperature of the emerging water remains at a year-round constant temperature of 48 degrees Fahrenheit, which indicates that it comes from deep underground. The upper part of the creek rarely freezes over, and is a popular source of water for wildlife-especially in winter when the area is closed to visitors.

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