Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hiking Cascade Mountain and Porter Mountain in the Adirondacks

Five million years ago glaciers advanced and retreated over what is now North America. This movement of ice and stone carved a 160 mile wide dome of rock to form what is the Adirondacks. Adirondack is an Anglicized version of 'ratirontaks', a Mohawk word meaning 'bark eater'. This was a derogatory name given to the Algonquin tribes by the Mohawks for their practice of eating the bark of spruce trees when food was scarce during the long winters.

In the Adirondacks there is an area called the High Peaks. There were 46 peaks originally named as High Peaks being over 4000 feet above sea level. Later surveys show that four of these peaks are not above 4000 feet and one peak that was not included. Due to tradition the list was not revised and remains as originally discovered. Climbers who have made it to the summit of the original 46 are known as 46ers or Adirondack 46ers and can be officially recognized by the organization. The truly hearty that climb all of these peaks between December 21st and March 21st belong to the Winter 46ers, of which there are currently 507 members.

I decided to start with Cascade Mountain since I was making a day trip from Lake George and the typical hike time was listed as five hours. To my benefit I found that I could also hike Porter Mountain with just a little additional time and thus get two of the 46 hikes in.

Heading North on the Adirondack Northway just past Schroon Lake.
 High Peaks Welcome Center on the Adirondack Northway I-87.
The base of Round Mountain on NY-73 approaching St. Huberts.

None spotted on this trip.  This sign is across from the trailhead by Mud Pond on NY-73 in Lake Placid.
Trailhead to Cascade and Porter.  44°13'8.23"N  73°53'15.49"W

Carry-A-Rock To Cascade
Help to protect the fragile alpine vegetation by carrying a rock to the top. The rocks will be used by Summit Stewards used to stabilize the fragile Alpine Soils, build steady cairns, and define trails on the summit. Thank You!
At the summit, you will find a similar sign. Please leave your rock at the sign. Please DO NOT leave your rocks on existing cairns.
Registration sign.

Heading the right way.
Stairway? On the Cascade trail.
Nearing the top of Cascade.
The summit is in sight.
Follow the blazes near the top to stay off the fragile Alpine Ecosystem.
Atop the highest peaks, above the tree line, there is a total of 87 acres (352,000 m²) of extraordinarily fragile alpine ecosystem; the amount of this ecosystem is constantly changing due to variation in the climate from year to year. -Wikipedia

On the way up I was told by a hiker that it was super windy on top, she was right. I estimated the winds at about 50 mph steady with gusts to about 80 mph.
Route 73 at Upper Cascade Lake (dead center of the photo), rough location of the trail head.
U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Reference Marker.
Alpine vegetation, remnants left from the last Ice Age!
Mt. Van Hovenburg Recreation area on left with Olympic Bobsled and Luge runs, Round Lake left center, and Lake Placid is hiding just beyond the haze on the right. Next time hiking shoes are in order.
Remember to carry a rock?
Another small area of the Alpine ecosystem.
Looking down the west face of Cascade.
This couple from Toronto made the ascent with their two young sons ages 10 and 12. I met another couple in their sixties with their grandchildren, and also a middle age couple from Romania.
The yellow NYS DEC trail markers are on the trail between Cascade and Porter.
The trail between Cascade and Porter can get a bit muddy.
View of Big Slide Mountain from the summit of Porter.
Cascade summit from Porter.
Looking southeast from Porter, a nice view of many High Peaks.
Reindeer Lichen found along the trail.
Wooly Bear. According to legend it is going to be a long winter.
Marcy Field.
Heading back to Lake George 4% complete to becoming a 46er.


  1. Great post! looking forward to seeing more. I just started doing the 46 myself, truly beautiful country.

  2. Awesome photo (and a video) diary! Very nice photos. Thank you for sharing.