Cascade Link(Trailhead coordinates: 42.85412 N, 72.09331W)
- Distance from parking to summit:
- 3.5 miles/5.7 km, via White Dot and Pumpelly.
- Ascending time:
- Three hours (estimated).
- Descending time:
- Two hours (estimated).
- Difficulty rating/rank:
- Crowd Factor:
- 1–3 (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being near-continuous contact with others.) You will probably meet other people on the trail below the Spellman Trail junction. Above the Spellman, you are unlikely to see anyone else though there may be signs of others.
- White Dot to Cascade Link at Falcon Spring (ascent) or Pumpelly Trail.
- Trail marker:
- A yellow dot.
- Average Grade:
By turning to the right at Falcon Spring, you can take the Cascade Link from which numerous trails branch. While this trail is generally climbing as it heads to the northeast, it's a considerably gentler climb than either the White Dot or White Cross trails. This comparative gentleness makes it one of the easier hikes on the mountain—but it actually leads you far to the east of the summit before it ends at the Pumpelly Trail, making for a long alternate route. (The Cascade Link has an average 20% grade; the average grade of the Cascade Link–Pumpelly Trail combination is 13%.)
One of the less traveled trails, Cascade Link is quieter and less crowded than most and it's relatively narrow, usually allowing only two people to walk abreast and sometimes forcing you to go single file. The trail passes through mixed forest, its base mostly soil, though it goes over several easily crossed streams where you have to step on rocks. (This can be very annoying during the black fly and mosquito seasons in May and June. And in springtime, you may find it quite wet as the trail sometimes seems to be actually following the stream beds!)
From the White Dot Trail junction, the trail runs almost level for quite a stretch, passing the Harling Trail where it enters from the right. After crossing one of the streams, it turns to the left and follows the stream upward for a couple of hundred yards, climbing relatively steeply compared to its earlier and later stretches. Shortly after this steep stretch ends, the trail takes another turn to the left at the "T" intersection with the Birchtoft Trail. Because of its several connecting trails, you have to watch the signs and check your map to be sure you stay on the trail or turn onto the one you're interested in at this intersection where I've seen several people become confused. Turning right down the Birchtoft Trail takes you away from the mountain.
Watch carefully here! Just a few yards/meters, perhaps 10, past the intersection with the Birchtoft Trail, the Cascade Link turns to the right while the Red Spot Trail continues straight ahead. Continuing on the Cascade Link, you'll soon come to the Spellman Trail, on your left.
If you elect to stay on the Cascade Link, it continues a reasonably gentle traverse upward toward the East Ridge. Without seeming to have climbed high enough, you suddenly find yourself at the junction with the Pumpelly Trail. Turn left here to go to the summit. See the section on the Pumpelly Trail to see how to continue your climb.
Cascade Link is a very pretty trail, not as demanding as the other trails, over which you can travel fairly rapidly. But if you have limited time on the mountain, or if you want the physical challenge of a steep hike, it may not be the best choice for you as it adds 2.2 km (just under 1.5 miles) to the trip as compared with the White Dot Trail.