Cascade Lake, near the Adirondack hamlet of Eagle Bay, is an easy hike on a well-maintained trail. It is perfect for families with school-aged children to enjoy back packing in a wilderness area. Just over a mile from Big Moose Road, the north shore of this lake has a small sandy beach that is great for a swim on a warm summer's day. For those a bit more ambitious, a trail of about five miles circles the lake. Cascade Falls is on the east end of the lake. These falls have a granite vertical face perhaps 50 feet high and 80 feet wide, with the falls generally a trickle only a couple of feet wide in the center of this cliff. While a small section of trail near the falls is slightly hilly, and usually a bit wet, most of the trail is quite easy. This lake is a popular destination, sometimes up to several dozen people a day. However, once the sun goes down, chances are you would have the lake nearly to yourself with the quiet solitude increasingly difficult to find in today's world.
By mid August, the woods are eerily quiet, with birds only occasionally singing. The maniacal call of the loon or a barred owl's hoots may break the silence during the night. During the day, insects humming provide a barely perceptible background noise. The silence is occasionally broken by muffled road traffic, small planes with pontoons on aerial tours of the region for tourists, and Eagle Bay's noontime siren. However, the general silence is a welcome respite from the much noisier urban world.
Viewing the Night Skies
The north shore of this mountain lake is a great spot for viewing the night sky away from city lights. Around August 12, the annual Perseid Meteor Shower usually provides one of the best meteor showers of the year. Cloudy skies may, of course, frustrate viewing a meteor shower or night skies at times.
August 12, 2010, while the clouds and haze were intermittent, large sections of the sky were at times crystal clear. About twenty meteors were seen over a couple of hours prior to midnight. Most of the meteors seen streaked to the south or southwest, seeming to come from the constellation Perseus low in the northeast sky, below Cassiopeia. This gives this mid-August meteor shower its name.
The early crescent moon was setting about an hour after sunset, thus not interfering with the meteor show. In addition, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and later Jupiter were all visible that evening, a rather unusual experience. For those usually stuck in the light polluted world of urban and suburban areas, a remote area provides a much better show that what might be seen in the city.
For those unaccustomed to a clear rural sky, hundreds to thousands of stars light the sky like diamonds. Binoculars bring out many stars invisible to the naked eye. However, a meteor shower is best viewed with the naked eye.
From Cascade Lake's northern, one has a very expansive view of the nighttime sky, especially from the southeast to west. It was from this same location the writer and his young children observed a total lunar eclipse in the late 1980s. On that occasion, we were joined by several horseback riders who came into the area just prior to sunset specifically for this occasional occurrence, and clear skies made that event especially memorable.
A Lake for All Seasons
For those interested in fairly easy wilderness tent camping away from the crowds of state parks or commercial camping sites, Cascade Lake provides a very good option. This is an ideal place to introduce young children to the joys of wilderness camping. It is also great for a day hike of two to six miles with a nice location for a swim. A fall hike provides stunning color, with the red, yellow, and orange of changing leaves peaking from mid September to early October. In winter, it is easily accessible on cross country skis or snowshoes. Whatever the season, Cascade Lake is a great site to enjoy the outdoors of the Adirondack wilderness.