Double your pleasure with a visit to Upper and Lower Cascade lakes, two long, narrow lakes that are framed by the sheer cliffs in Cascade Pass. They’re located right on Route 73, about 10 minutes from Lake Placid, making it easy for anyone who wants to paddle, swim, fish, or sunbath in a dramatic mountain setting without enduring an arduous hike into the backcountry.
The spit of land separating the two lakes has room for a dozen vehicles to park, and there are picnic tables available. The waterfall that spills off of the shoulder of Cascade Mountain can be reached by crossing the bridge and following the herd paths up the rocky base of the slide. It is a short, rugged hike but the falls are worth it.
From the intersection of Route 73 and Route 86 in Lake Placid, follow Route 73 toward Keene. Continue on Route 73 for 9 miles to the parking area between Upper and Lower Cascade lakes.
Note that the outlet between Upper and Lower Cascade lakes cannot be paddled, but the portage is a 100 foot walk over easy terrain.
The half-mile long Upper Cascade Lake is the smaller of the two Cascade lakes. Thanks to how well-sheltered it is, Upper Cascade typically isn’t as windy as Lower.
When paddling Lower Cascade Lake, you will often have the wind at your back going downstream, but expect to fight a stiff breeze on the way back to the parking area. Heavy boulders dot the side of the water while the cliffs on Pitchoff Mountain loom to the north.
Be sure to rest next to the floating boulder at the east end of the lake and watch rock climbers high on Pitchoff’s cliffs. A word of caution: Don’t go too far to the east or you will get snagged by the beaver activity.
These twin lakes are regarded as two of the best brook trout waters around. The base of Cascade Mountain continues past the water’s surface on both lakes — Lower reaches 40 feet deep at its southernmost end, and the middle of Upper goes down to 60 feet.
As summer heats up the water, there will be brookies and brown trout in both lakes and lake trout in Upper Cascade. The shallows offer pumpkinseeds and sunfish in both lakes, with yellow perch in Lower Cascade.