Cascade Mountain is an excellent introduction to hiking in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks. There are 46 High Peaks over 4000 feet in the Adirondacks and Cascade Mountain is known as the easiest of them to hike. At 4,098 feet tall, Cascade is the most heavily trafficked High Peak.
Many people do this as their first High Peak. It is great for kids and people that are new to the area.
To reach the trailhead for Cascade Mountain, you will need to drive about 6 miles east of Lake Placid, NY on Route 73. There are some beautiful lakes off the side of the road near the trailhead. Since this hike is so popular, there are a few different pull offs to park in. Feel free to use any of these as it is an easy walk to the trail from each one. You may want to back into your parking spot because it will be hard to back out onto the curvy Route 73 when you are done with your hike. A neat feature of this hike is that you can see the summit from the trailhead, so you know just how far you will need to go.
On a recent hike, we climbed Cascade, and nearby Porter Mountain, in about a 6 hour trip. We were going quite slowly and I can’t imagine this hike taking much longer than that. Keep in mind how much sunlight is left for the day and make sure to leave early enough so that you don’t get stuck in the dark. Lots of water and some snacks or lunch for the top are also good things to bring. It had not rained for about a week when we hiked it and there were still muddy spots on the trail so you will probably want a good pair of waterproof hiking boots as well.
The trail is very popular. We everyone from children about five years old, to dogs, to elderly and overweight people. The trail is challenging but really is doable for most people. Keep in mind that the trail is very rocky and you will need to be able to balance while climbing on top and over small rocks. The nice thing about this trail compared to others in the High Peaks is that I did not need to use my hands and arms at all to help me balance.
There is a large rock about ¾ of the way up where you will be able to see over the trees and get your first glimpse of the wonderful view.
Porter Mountain was a short side trip that added 1.6 miles total to our hike. I would recommend you doing this as well because the summit of Porter is deserted compared to Cascade. This gives you some time to look around without tons of other people and you are able to see the top of Cascade from here.
Continuing on to Cascade, you will notice the trees getting shorter and the plants looking a little different because of the high altitude. They are interesting to look at and a good sign that you are getting close to the top. We reached the summit on a Thursday afternoon in August and there were about 60 to 70 people there. There is a large rocky area, so everyone fits comfortably, but it is not quite as peaceful as nearby Porter. However, I believe the view from Cascade is much better since there are no trees to get in the way.
The hike back down took about 2 hours – much faster than the climb up.
I recommend this hike as a good starter hike for people who are new to the High Peaks and want to get a good view. Of course, some of the higher mountains out there offer a better view but that is at the price of a longer, strenuous hike. Check it out if you are ever in the area.