January 22, 2022
I was lucky enough to be invited on a hike to the wildly popular Green Monster – a frozen waterfall along Evan-Thomas Creek. When I say “wildly popular” I mean amongst the winter hiker crowd. This has long been a known spot for ice climbers, and I bet they are none too keen to see their secret stash being overrun.
If you take the time, there are numerous short side trails that lead to many other waterfalls and ice climbs. We watched several teams climb on the way in and out. The Green Monster is just one such ice climb in this area.
While you can hike here in the summer, this is a winter trip report. You’ll need to dress warmly, and bring extra layers as the temperature cools considerably once you’re in the canyon. I wore my hiking boots with heated socks (because I’ve frozen my toes several times this year and my feet are super sensitive). Spikes are a necessity. Gators are advised. We had a tramped down trail with no fresh snow, and my pants covered my boot tops. Hiking poles are ideal for stabilization walking on the snow.
From the Evan-Thomas Day Use Area, take the main trail heading south east. Around 1.8 km, take the right fork to descend down the embankment to the meadow below. From there, continue roughly south to follow the Evan-Thomas Creek. When stopped by a narrowing of the creek, head uphill on the left to go up and over the ridge. Continue along the creek until you see Cascade Falls on the right. Return the same way.
Parking and Trail Head
Park at the Evan-Thomas Day Use Area on the east side of Highway 40. This is a small lot with pit toilets. While it is disappointing to get to your destination and see that the parking lot is full, instead of clogging up the lot or parking on the highway, have an alternate destination and move to your next choice.
This is where Sonya, Erin and I met Stephen’s group of five (Stephen, Matt, Dylan, Scott and Darlene). I was looking forward to meeting Stephen ever since he Sherpa carried Erin down from Prairie Mountain when she broke her ankle last year. “I need a hero” plays in my head whenever I think about Stephen 🙂
From the parking lot, take the main “Old Baldy” trail. After about 50 m, turn left to continue on this trail for another 1.6 km. This is a groomed ski trail.
Please note this is track set for cross-country skiers. Be courteous and do not walk on the tracks. You can walk in the middle of the tracks in this location (many other locations do not allow walking down the middle because that’s used for skate skiing).
At approximately 1.2 km, there is a side trail to the right. This takes you off the groomed ski trail and is a lovely walk through the forest. This also gives you a great view of the mountains across the valley that you don’t see from the ski trail.
After the side trail reconnects with the main trail, there is a Y junction at about the 1.8 km mark. Going left (or straight) continues to Old Baldy. We went right, crossed a bridge, and then descended into the open meadow below.
Once in the open area, we picked up the Evan-Thomas Creek Trail. We followed it to the end, with the Mackay Hills overhead on our right.
The scenery in the canyon is simply stunning. Each twist and turn gave another fantastic view. I could have taken a million photos. The trail will be slightly different each year, depending on how the snow is and where the initial trail is put in. We could see remnants of older trails that are no longer in use. We had one creek crossing, but there could be more depending on snow levels.
At around the 5 km mark, the creek narrows considerably and is impassable. After a quick photo op, we headed to climbers left to hike up, across, and then back down the embankment. There are chains and ropes in this section to hang onto. Please be aware that these have been added by the ice climbers. Please do not abuse their equipment. They carry their own ropes and have the ability to remove the ropes with no consequence to themselves. Also, do not blindly trust the ropes.
After the initial climb, there is a chained section that traverses across a flat bit. Then there is a short drop, before the final steep section that goes back down to the creek bed.
Please be aware that this is steep. Very steep. There is also a major drop on the south side. Consequences of falling here are severe, as in you’ll break something or you’ll die. The up and down section is also one at a time. We had to wait our turn, despite there being less than 12 people here. On a busy day, you could be standing here for some time waiting your turn.
At around the 5.7 km mark, we went around a bend in the creek. On the left is an avalanche slope. While there was very little snow when I was there, there is potential for a slide after a big snow storm or major snow accumulation. If in doubt, cross one at a time and do not linger.
We arrived at the main attraction – Cascade Falls, with the ice climb The Green Monster – after about 6 km of mainly flat hiking. We were the second group there, so had the falls to ourselves and could admire the beautiful green colour.
We had a pair of ice climbers getting ready to ascend The Green Monster ice climbing route. If you see climbers, please be courteous. This means never walk on their ropes or touch their gear. Please also do not get between their ropes and the ice. If in doubt, just ask them where is a safe place to walk.
We were curious as to how far the trail continued after The Green Monster, so we hiked on. After a short water crossing, we found a lovely little open waterfall, and then a small frozen fall. This was now definitely the end of the trail as boulders clogged the Evan-Thomas Creek bed.
Cascade Falls / Green Monster Return
We returned the way we came. On the way back, Sonya, Erin and I let the rest of our group go ahead while we checked out the side trails leading to the various ice climbs. We were lucky enough to see several climbers on some impressive ice.
On our way back, we found the masses of people who were now hiking in. It was like several tour busses had stopped and let everyone off at once. We were very thankful for our early start. I cannot imagine how backed-up the chain and rope sections are with this many people trying to access the area all at once.
While I had a fantastic day, the absolute BEST part was seeing my friend and scrambling partner Annette near the trail head. After a harrowing medical incident last year that left her unable to even walk, seeing her back out on the trails was … I don’t even have words. We just hugged and hugged.
When we arrived back at the parking lot, there were several cars circling the lot. When we tried to leave, it was touch and go as to whether we would be able to without scraping some of the poorly parked cars.
Our trip to The Green Monster, otherwise known as Cascade Falls, was a fun and easy winter hike. If you go, especially on a weekend, leave early.
Totals – Tracked on Gaia, and displayed on Strava
Date: January 22, 2022
Group: Eight (Alisen, Sonya, Erin, Stephen, Matt, Scott, Darlene and Dylan)
Distance: 13 km
Elevation: 229 m (755′)
Time: 3 hours 10 min (includes snacks, and gawking at ice climbers)