Hiking the Adirondacks: Scrambling up Cascade Mountain

Over July 4th weekend, we decided to go to the Adirondacks for some much needed outdoor time. We drove past Lake George to settle further north into the High Peaks region. For our first hike of the mini-vacation, we wanted an easy/introductory hike. We googled a bit and found several sites calling Cascade Mountain an “easy” 5 mile in-and-out hike to a beautiful vista. We put on our hiking boots and set out!

Getting there

Anyone who knows us, knows we like to get an early start. Unfortunately, our camp site was about an hour from the trail head, so while we got up and left early, we still didn’t make it there until about 8:30. The trail head is off Rt 73, halfway between Lake Placid and Keene. Parking is all street parking either on pull offs or on the side of the road. We parked down the street a bit from the entrance on a pull off because the five spots in front of it were taken. After signing the hiker log, we were ready for our easy hike.

The way up

It’s not too far into this hike that you realize “easy” by Adirondacks’ standards is a bit above other regions’ ratings (like the Hudson Valley or the Fingerlakes). The hike is a semi-steep 2.4 mile trek up the mountain. As you hike, you climb over huge boulders, or hop logs/rocks to avoid mud, or step between sprawling roots covering the trail. The trail is well-maintained, and for those who cannot or do not want to scramble up rocks, there are plenty of off-shoots providing an easier roundabout way.

About three quarters of the way up, we were dying. Every corner we turned presented more steep incline. But it’s canopied and cool. When you catch your breath (or if you actually conditioned in any way…), the surrounding woods are gorgeous. And you do get a reprieve. There’s an initial vista where you can stop and have a snack or drink some water.

It’s a great view and you may think you’re done, BUT KEEP GOING. The real prize isn’t too much further. Once you’re finally at the top, you know it–there are no more trees. You are scaling a rock face until if flattens out and you get that 360 view you’ve been waiting for. There’s a small ladder/set of stairs at one point, or you can climb the rocks to the top. At the top, we shared a beer and relaxed. The view is worth taking in for 20-30 minutes. You worked hard for it after all! The weather rolls in and out around the mountaintop and truly centers you.

The way down

The way down is a much faster jaunt down the mountainside. We had to be careful because, well, we’re clumsy! There’s a lot of wet rock, roots and other obstacles just waiting to trip you up. All-in-all, we were on this trail for about 3 hours. It was a lovely introduction to the Adirondacks, but I wouldn’t call this “easy.” We really enjoyed it though and would 100% do it again.

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