Cascade: #36 4,098′
Porter: #38 4,059′
Total Mileage: 5.7 miles
Cascade and Porter are a great introduction to the ADK 46 High Peaks. This is strenuous but very doable half day hike and is great for beginners. Cascade is considered to be the easiest of the high peaks to hike, and even has Porter as a close neighbor to make an easy two summit hike.
Although it is considered an easy High Peak, it is not an easy mountain. As far as hikes go in New York, High Peaks are by their nature more difficult than a typical day hike. Be sure that you are properly equipped with ample food and water, as well as dressed properly with well-worn in boots. Be sure to bring rain gear and a warm layer for the windy summit! Remember that weather is often unpredictable in the High Peaks area and the trails are often wet and muddy. If this is your first High Peak hike it will likely take about 4-6 hours depending on your ability and the length of your brakes on the summits.
There are several places to park near the Cascade Lakes and a path along the side of the road between the lots for safe access to the trail head. You can actually see the mountain from the road! Look for the Cascade/Pitchoff sign, from that parking lot the trail will descend into the woods to a sign in box. There the trail begins.
Starting at the trail head on Rt. 73 next to the Cascade Lakes, trail 90 meanders 2.1 miles up the side of Cascade to a junction. The first section of the hike is very moderate, but things get slightly more steep as you get close to a mile in. The trail continues alternating steeper grades and level sections until 1.8 miles in, where there is a nice view!
A bit down the trail from the view-point you will reach a junction. Continuing forward will bring you the final 0.3 miles to the summit of Cascade. The trail to the right leads down to a small col (low point between two mountains), and then at a gradual grade up to the summit of Porter (marked only by trail signs to other locations).
The walk over to the summit of Cascade from the junction is brief but wet, then steeply climbs up the open rock of the summit.
Having fully enjoyed the summit of Cascade we headed back down to the junction and quickly covered the 0.7 miles down, up and across to Porter. The trail there was very snowy and icy, even in late May! Our microspikes really were the perfect footwear. The trail is a moderate climb across to Porter, but levels out when you reach a giant boulder. The summit itself is a small open area with a view of Cascade to the Northwest, and a similar view of the Great Range as seen from Cascade.
Once on top of Porter we enjoyed the view for a bit then began the return trip. As we were hiking in the “off-season” there were only a few other hikers we encountered during our trip. We had the rare privileged of having some time on both summits completely to ourselves. On our way down we started to discuss what type of pie we would get at the Noon Mark Diner!
Remember, on weekends in the summer Cascade is usually extremely crowded. Not only does that impact parking availability, but also the quality of your experience. If you can, avoid weekends when planning your Cascade hike.