The parking area for Cascade often fills quickly, especially in the summer. Consider choosing a less popular, and less crowded, trail. Although steep in spots, Cascade Mountain is a relatively short hike to outstanding panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
- Elevation: 4,098 feet
- Elevation gain: 1,178 feet
- Distance one way: 2.4 miles
From the intersection of Route 86 and 73 in Lake Placid, follow Route 73 east for 8.4 miles. The trailhead and parking area are on the right, just before Upper Cascade Lake. Note that this is a busy road and the main parking area is often full, especially on nice days, making parking in one of the overflow lots necessary. Take care when walking along the shoulder of the busy highway, or consider trying one of the many other beautiful — and less popular — hikes in the area.
The trail up Cascade Mountain drops away from the highway via a set of stairs and crosses a bridge before reaching the trail register. After that, it immediately begins to ascend at moderate grades, weaving between large rocks as it goes. The path levels off and crosses a stream at 0.6 mile, where there is a nice cascading waterfall. After crossing the brook on rocks, the trail swings left and begins to climb more steeply until it reaches Cascade's ridge at 1.4 miles. Swinging right, the path follows the ridge at easy to moderate grades until it reaches a steep section of open rock at 1.8 miles. Good views at the top encourage a well-deserved break, but the best is still yet to come.
Re-entering the woods, the path continues its easy to moderate ascent to a junction with the trail to Porter Mountain at 2 miles (0.8 mile to the summit, elevation 4,058 feet). That side trip is a great way to extend this hike and bag two High Peaks in one outing.
Continuing straight, the open rocks of Cascade's summit soon appear above the stunted spruce and balsam fir growth. From this point, paint blazes on the rocks mark the route as it quickly gains the summit at 2.4 miles. Be sure to avoid stepping on the fragile vegetation as you make your way to the incredible, 360-degree panoramic views on the summit.
Cascade in winter
Cascade is an excellent snowshoe excursion after you've tried a few of the area's smaller mountains. Snowshoes will usually suffice on the generally well-packed trail, although microspikes could come in handy on some of the steeper sections, especially along the ridge and near the summit.
Expect a significant drop in temperature as elevation is gained, and be prepared for strong winds on the open summit. Always bring extra layers, especially for higher elevations, and don't hesitate to turn around if the weather starts to turn.