Cascade was a quick butt-slide to the bottom, where we again reached the fork, turning right this time to head up to Porter. It was only .25 miles from the fork, and on the way a group warned us about a false summit. I wouldn’t necessarily consider what they were referring to as a false summit, but it was a bit tricky, as there was a giant rock to stand on before the trail descended. If the correct trail hadn’t been packed down so that we knew where to go, I could have easily seen us thinking that was the summit.
See the previous day’s post of Big Slide here.
Jake was sore from the day before.
Amy wanted to sleep in.
Axel didn’t want us to push our check out time at the Airbnb too far so that we wouldn’t have time to shower.
No one wanted to do Cascade and Porter, except for me. And I REALLY wanted to do them.
Cascade and Porter are always recommended as the ideal hike for hikers just starting to get acquainted with the Adirondacks. Round-trip, they’re a total of about 6 miles, and that’s being generous. The pair had come up several times before as a suggested hike, but I always thought it seemed like an awful waste of time to drive 10 hours round-trip for an easy, six-mile hike. Because of this, I wanted to tackle these bad boys in winter, for the credit, and also tacked on as an early-morning Sunday hike.
Since it was our last winter weekend in the Adirondacks, I was adamant about doing this hike on Sunday, our exhaustion from the hike the day before be damned. Since we had done Big Slide the day before, it was also a source of pride for me to be able to tick of three (THREE!!!) peaks in one weekend.
So, around 7 am, I begrudgingly got out of bed, and truth be told, I didn’t want to do Cascade and Porter either. An adrenaline, or maybe pride, switch flipped inside of me, and I became determined. I got all my friends up, shooed them out the door, and away we went to the trailhead.
It was a closer drive from our Airbnb than the trailhead to Big Slide, only about 11 minutes, but since Cascade and Porter are such a popular hike, we found the first pull-off to be full of cars. We had to go up the road to the second pull-off, and then walk a little bit to get to the trailhead. We were in good company, as a few parties, probably comprising about 10 hikers total, were snowshoeing up alongside us.
The trail was packed down so well, though, that I doubt snowshoes were actually needed. But since it’s winter and there were more than 8 inches of snow on the ground, they were required. We hiked in pretty quickly on a gradual uphill climb. Many times I turned around to find Jake sputtering, “she said this would be EASY.” After our long climb of Big Slide the day before, our quads were screaming even on the decently gradual uphill. It was comforting to know that it would be over soon.
We stopped at the fork, where the trail to the left takes you to Cascade, and the one to the right takes you to Porter. The climb up to Porter is significantly shorter, so we opted to do Cascade first. Many times in our backcountry hikers group on Facebook I’d heard people say one of the best views in the Adirondacks is from Cascade, and I’d brushed it off, thinking for such a short mountain, the views couldn’t possibly be that great.
I was 100% wrong about that. As we traversed up a steep, open face, I was immediately taken in by the 360-degree views that Cascade had waiting for us. You could see all of the Adirondacks from up there! We were pleasantly surprised to discover that we were now at a level of familiarity with the ADKs such that we could look around and identify the mountains surrounding us.
It was so cold and windy that we dared not take our fingers out of our gloves, but we managed to get a few quick selfies in at the top. In the interest of time, we decided to skip our Rumchata shot until we got back to the Airbnb, especially because we were about to climb Porter and wanted to get back as quickly as possible.
After descending for a bit and then ascending, we found ourselves on the substantially less-impressive summit of Porter. I actually didn’t think it was the summit, I thought this was the false summit that the group had spoken of, and I insisted on continuing for a ways, until the trail stopped being broken out. Clearly, I wasn’t the first person to make that mistake. Realizing we were on the summit, which is surrounded by trees but has decent views, we took the time to take some decent group shots before heading back out.
From the top of Porter to the bottom, it took us about an hour, tops. Descending a mountain in the Adirondacks is much easier in the snow because you don’t have to worry about tripping over all those rocks and boulders. We took advantage of all the butt-sliding we could, and were eager to make it back to the Airbnb for showers, Rumchata, and to head out to lunch.
As a decently experienced ADK-er now, I would definitely recommend saving these two for winter, especially if you’re coming from a long distance like we are. The views are fantastic, the hike is relatively short, and it’s an easy way to bag two winter peaks in one go. Because the trail is buried under snow, it’s also considerably easier in the winter. And just like when Jake pushed us up Baker, or Sonic insisted that we wake up before the crack of dawn to do an Ampersand sunrise hike, I think my fellow comrades were grateful in the end that I forced them to get out of bed to go up Cascade and Porter. At least, I hope so. 🙂
How we got there: We rented a car from Budget out of LGA airport, which is one of my personal favorite rental locations. The M60 stops right in front, and it’s an easy drive back to Astoria from there.
Where we stayed: We rented an Airbnb, dubbed “Lake Placid Getaway,” just outside of Lake Placid. It was easy to find, and the host provided us everything we could possibly need. She lived upstairs, but we rarely saw her and she left us alone for the majority of the time. When we needed her, she was super responsive, which we were incredibly grateful for. There was a little fireplace, one bedroom, and two pullout couches. The place was large, so it comfortably slept all four of us, and we were each able to have our own section of the space without bring right on top of each other.