November 06, 2007

Cascade - Paintbrush Canyon Loop Trail

By Daryl L. Hunter
The Paintbrush Divide trail makes up the first part of a great loop hike that carries you across the Divide (10,720 feet), passing Lake Solitude as it winds back down to the Cascade Canyon. It's best to go up the Paintbrush Canyon first because it allows for turning around if the quicker if ice/snow at the divide is a problem. Also, its steeper which is more pleasant to go up than down, and gets the hard part over with while you are still fresh. A snowfield makes the trail a bit tricky as you cross the Divide until early August. After August is easily traversed without the need of an ice axe trekking poles are always useful on extreme day hikes and make the small snow excursions even easier but it might not hunt to have an ice axe along if you go earlier than August.

In Cascade and Paintbrush Canyons you will see boulder fields and subalpine forests of fir, Engelmann Spruce, Limber and Whitebark Pines; Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, American Pikas, and Yellow-bellied Marmots may be seen in the area. Higher up youll find the alpine country, with its talus slopes, glaciers, and globeflowers, Glacier Lilies, and Alpine Forget-me-nots, the park flower.

Thunderstorms are common in the afternoon for most of the summer. For that reason, it's advisable to get an early start and try to cross the open divide by noon, .........................................More

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