The Cascade Range
is a mountain
chain that runs north-south along the west coast of North America
from British Columbia
to Northern California
. (The small part of the range that is in British Columbia is typically called the Cascade Mountains
.) It believed that the mountains were named by explorers for the numerous waterfalls
found where the Columbia River
cuts a gorge or canyon
through the Cascades, although the earliest attested use of this name is in the writings of the botanist David Douglas
The Cascades (as they are called for short) are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the ring of volcanoes around the Pacific Ocean. The range is still volcanically active: Lassen Peak erupted in 1911, and Mount St. Helens in 1980.
The volcanoes of the Cascades stand tall above the rest of the range, up to 4,400 m (14,400 ft), often twice the height of the surrounding mountains and white with snow and ice year-round. The northern part of the range, north of Mount Rainier is extremely rugged, with many of the lesser peaks steep and glaciated. The valleys are quite low however, and major passes are only about 1000 m (3300 ft) high.
Because of the range's proximity to the Pacific Ocean, precipitation is substantial, especially on the western slopes, with annual accumulations of up to 380 cm (150 in) in some areas. The western slopes are densely covered with Douglas fir, hemlock and alder, while the eastern slopes are mostly pine, with golden larch at higher elevations.
Primary Mountains: (listed north to south)
- Mount Garibaldi (British Columbia) - heavily eroded by glaciers and has three principal peaks.
- Mount Baker (Near the United States-Canada border) - highest peak in northern Washington. It still shows some steam activity from its crater, though it is considered dormant.
- Glacier Peak (northern Washington) - secluded and relatively inaccessible peak. Contrary to its name, its glacial cover isn't that extensive.
- Mount Rainier (southeast of Tacoma, Washington) - highest peak in the Cascades, it dominates the surrounding landscape.
- Mount St. Helens (southern Washington) - Erupted in 1980, completely leveling the surrounding area and sending ash acrosss the northwest. The northern part of the mountain was destroyed in the blast.
- Mount Adams (east of Mount Saint Helens) - the second highest peak in Washington.
- Mount Hood (northern Oregon) - the highest peak in Oregon and the most frequently climbed major peak in the Cascades.
- Mount Jefferson (northcentral Oregon) - the second highest peak in Oregon.
- Mount Washington (between Santiam and McKenzie passes) 
- Three Sisters (near the town of Bend, Oregon) - South Sister is the highest and youngest, with a well defined crater. Middle Sister is more pyramidal and eroded. North Sister is the oldest and has a crumbling rock pinnacle.
- Broken Top (to the southeast of South Sister) - contains Bend Glacier
- Newberry Volcano and Newberry Caldera - isolated caldera with two crater lakes. Very variable lavas. Flows from here have reached the city of Bend.
- Mount Bachelor (near Three Sisters) - a popular ski resort.
- Mount Bailey (north of Mount Mazama)
- Mount Thielsen (east of Mount Bailey)
- Mount Mazama (southern Oregon) - detonated thousands of years ago and now known as Crater Lake, which is a caldera formed by a catastrophic eruption which took out most of the summit. Mt. Mazama is said to have about 12,000ft elevation prior to the blast.
- Mount McLoughlin (near Klamath Falls, Oregon) - presents a symmetrical appearance when viewed from Klamath Lake.
- Mount Shasta (northern California - second highest peak in the Cascades. Can be seen as far as the Sacramento Valley, 60 miles away, as it is a dominating feature of the region.
- Lassen Peak (south of Mt. Shasta) - southernmost volcano in the Cascades and the most easily climbed peak in the Cascades, it erupted in 1911. It is in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
The Barlow Trail was the first established land path for U.S. settlers through the Cascade Range in 1845, and formed the final overland link for the Oregon Trail (previously, settlers had to raft down the treacherous rapids of the Columbia River). It passes north of Mt. Hood.
- Fred Beckey, Cascade Alpine Guide (3 vols.) (The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1973).
- Stephen L. Harris, Fire and Ice (The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1976).