Trip report

Mts. Madison and Adams Hike

Hiking/Walk DATE: 08/03/2013 - 08/03/2013

Trip/Event Location: Gorham, NH

Trip Leader(s): Gandalf , JDNnh

Max # People: 15

Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money

Difficulty Level: Very Strenuous

This is a big hike, but should be a fun one. There will be plenty of time above treeline and no shortage of views! Adams and Madison are part of the northern Presidential Range ~ and among the tallest

Driving directions to the location and spot to meet at:

Follow New Hampshire Route 16 north thorough Pinkham Notch to the town of Gorham and turn left [west] on U.S. Highway 2. The large Appalachia Trailhead parking area is on the left [south] side of the highway about 6 miles west of Gorham. We'll be driving a blue FJ Cruiser.

Or take I-93 North, then U.S Highway 3 North, and then New Hampshire Route 115. Turn right [east] on U.S. Highway 2 and drive about 12 miles [more or less] to the large Appalachia Trailhead parking area on the right [south] side of the highway. We'll be driving a blue FJ Cruiser.  

Trip Report/Photos
Featured Photo

Though the forecast wasn't great, we lucked out [well, mostly]. Nine GOers met at the Appalachia parking lot in the rain but soon after we started, 8:15am, the rain stopped. We went up the Valley Way but for some variety took the Watson Path further up to lead us to Mt. Madison.  Temperatures when we started were probably in the mid-60s. As we climbed higher, we could see the nearby ridges in the clouds.

On the Watson Path, we crossed the brook at the base of Duck Fall. We then began a relentless steep and rough climb through a wild conifer forest, with poor footing on roots and rocks. We then emerged from scrub and onto the grassy, stony back of the ridge, where we began to enjoy some views, including Durand Ridge [Airline Trail], our route of descent.  We then climbed in the open on a long stretch of rock-hopping, reaching the clouds and the summit of Mt. Madison around noon. It was very windy and we estimated it was near 30 mph. We did get some views and we were the only ones on the summit. 

We headed down to have lunch at Madison Hut. Some of us ordered the hot soup. We were thankful to have this facility to shield us from the wind, have tables/chairs to sit on, and even rest rooms. 

We used the Star Lake Trail to ascend Mt. Adams, taking time to take pictures of the lake sprinkled with lichen-dotted rocks. We then began a brutal climb ~ very steep and rocky, with large boulders and some ledge scrambling up its "chimney." The plus with this approach is that it shielded us from the wind. We took a break at the top of the chimney and enjoyed some views of the surronding mountains. We could even see the auto road up Mt. Washington and the ski trails of Wildcat Mountain. We put on our wind/rain shells because we knew that once we took the corner, we would feel the full force of the wind; and that we did!

The Mt. Adams summit itself was not that far away as we entered the clouds once again. We reached the summit around 2pm, feeling strong winds. We were the only ones on the summit. We estimated the winds to be around 40mph. We took a quick summit picture and down we went.

We rock-hopped and descended down the Airline Trail into the clouds. We found ourselves in a full HAILSTORM with the 40 mph pelting wind. OUCH!  We continued our descent on the knife-edge like Durand Ridge with the clouds periodically blown away providing us outstanding views down into and across King Ravine. We ambled down the open ledges among wild, jutting rock formations and eventually got back into the forest. We took off our wind/rain shells and as we descended began to enjoy once again, some sunshine. 

We finished a bit before 6PM and most of us met at Mt. Pizza for some well deserved beers and dinner. They had a outside deck next to the Androscoggin River so it was a great way to celebrate our adventure. Overall, this will be an adventure that all of us will remember for a very long time!  

  There are 61 photos in Album (Note: Move mouse pointer over larger pic and click on NEXT for better viewing)

Members That Participated


Outdoor Fitness Level: Very Strenuous

Thornton, NH

United States


Outdoor Fitness Level: Very Strenuous

Thornton, NH

United States


Outdoor Fitness Level: Strenuous

Upton, MA

United States

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