Cascade and Porter are the two easiest hikes in the Adirondack 46'er Challenge currently due to the relatively short distance and terrain. It is only 2.4 miles to the summit of Cascade (4.8 miles round trip) and an additional 1.4 miles out and back to the summit of Porter Mountain.
The whole hike took me four hours and six minutes, with thirty minutes of down time put in there to talk with other hikers. These were peaks fifty-two and fifty-three as I began working on a second round of the challenge, so my pace was just above a normal hiker on the way up and very quick on the way down.
The parking area for Cascade and Porter currently sits on the right side of Route 73, about ten minutes out of Lake Placid. There is one little lot right at the trail head and a host of secondary lots up the hill from the trail as well as down the hill to the east of the sign-in book.
I left my house at 2:20 in the morning and arrived at the parking area at 6:20 a.m. to ensure I got a decent parking spot as I've read that the Adirondacks have been pretty busy during these times. I was geared up and on trail by 6:30 in the morning.
Poles are Recommended for the High Peaks
First Section: Trail Head to Cascade/Porter Junction (2.1 miles)
The hike starts out with some light elevation for the first twenty minutes along a stony pathway. It’s not technical at all, just constantly upward.
One thing about this hike that makes it so family friendly is that after doing some elevation, it tends to give you a little flat spot to recover. At about .9 miles, I came to one of those flat spots where this boulder (see below) is located. This was 35 minutes into the hike.
It was another ten minutes of climbing to the next resting spot where there was some gray paint on a few trees. At the hour and twenty minute mark, the trail comes to the first technical area with some nice exposed rock as seen below.
I spent five minutes using a little trail off to the left for a potty break since it looked like it was going to open up after the climb. Then, as seen below, at the top of this rocky section, it allows views back through the trees.
After spending another five minutes deleting old photos since I had run out of storage, I made my way up the trail and in five minutes hit the split for Cascade and Porter which is well marked with signage (see below). I spent a good 10 minutes there talking to Lauren from Rochester before heading up to do Cascade first.
Second Section: Cascade/Porter Junction to Cascade Summit (.3 miles)
I left the junction at 8:15 a.m. and the trail goes across some boards before coming to the alpine zone of the summit. There’s a little scramble right away as you come out of the woods.
There are a couple of false summits as you head up and the trail heads over to the right before the final climb to the top.
I dropped my pack by the ladder, knowing I wanted to eat a snack out of the wind and then hit the summit at 8:25 a.m. and took a quick shot next to the survey marker that’s atop the mountain.
Third Section: Descent from Cascade (.3 miles)
I only spent five minutes up on the summit. The views are nice, but I was pretty sweaty from the climb and started to get cold so I came down. It only took seven minutes to get back to the Cascade/Porter junction.
Fourth Section: Cascade/Porter Junction to Porter Summit (.7 miles)
Back at the split, I took the trail that goes off to the right at the junction to head to Porter.
The trail drops down right away with some decent elevation descent, but not for too long. The trail will then start to head back up and to the left. It took me seven minutes until I ran into the scenic boulder that the little guy below was sitting on.
A lot of people will climb the boulder for views or photos, but with the family up there, I chose to turn right and then climb up some rock a little further down from the boulder for a lookout point and some similar views as seen below.
I dropped my pack at the lookout since I was going to be coming back down this way and continued up the trail for another five minutes until hitting the small summit of Porter. There are no summit markers on this peak, so I took some video so you can see the rock outcropping you’re looking for. It took 23 minutes from the junction of Cascade and Porter to reach the summit right about at 9 in the morning.
Fifth Section: Descent Back to the Sign-In Book (2.8 miles)
I spent 15 minutes on the summit waiting for the clouds to roll past so I could get a clear shot of Cascade and Big Slide. At 9:15 a.m., I started down, getting to the flat section at 9:30 a.m. and climbing quickly back up to the split for Cascade and Porter at 9:36 in the morning.
From there, it took me an hour to head back, getting to the sign-in book at 10:36 in the morning. I ended up running into another cool solo hiker a mile down the trail, Kai (Kay), and we hiked the rest of the way out together. She had left the split at 9:10 a.m, so her descent time was an hour and twenty-five minutes, but she had hiked Algonquin and Iroquois the day before and that’s a tough, rocky hike while I was completely fresh.
The total trail time was 4 hours and 6 minutes with around 30 minutes of down time talking to other hikers, deleting photos, and using the restroom. But I made pretty good time since I was fresh and these were high peaks number fifty-two and fifty-three for me, or six and seven on my second round.