View Full Version : Mount Adams

04-11-2005, 00:09
Submitted by Steve Keri

Taking on one of New Hampshire’s highest peaks—Mount Adams
It was 8 a.m. on a recent Saturday when I met other members of the Connecticut Chapter-Green Mountain Club at Hiker’s Paradise Hostel in Gorham. As we were finishing breakfast and waiting out the passing shower, the rest of the group arrived for our hike to the top of Mount Adams, the second highest peak in New Hampshire, towering at 5,771 feet.

Our hike leader, Jack Sanga, outlines the loop hike that would take us up Loewe’s Path off of Route 2 th King Ravine Trail, across five peaks that make up Mount Adams ridge and down the Airline Trail to Route 2. Mount Adams is within the Presidential Range of the White Mountains National Forest. The range includes Mount Washington, the highest peak in New England (6,288 feet), and is notorious for its unpredictable weather.

After parking the cars at the hiker’s trailheads, the six of us head into the woods and start an ascent of Loewe’s Path, winding through second growth forest of beech, birch, maple and elm, and patches of polypody and wood fern, common at this lower elevation. As we continue to ascend Loewe’s Path, we branch off to the left and pick up the King Ravine Trail, ascending at a sharper incline. About 11 a.m., we take a break and notice we were engulfed in a forest of black spruce and balsam fir with scattered patches of mountain ash and stripped maple trees, which occur above 2500 feet.

Our continued ascent to Mount Adams takes us through a tunnel-maze of quartz caves and low-lying spruce called “The Subway”, and brings us to an elevation above 4,000 feet. Above treeline, the landscape contains an overgrowth of shrub-looking, dwarf-like trees called krummholz. We have a snack while resting at the base of King Ravine while taking in the huge glacial bowl and notice the floor containing a jumble of huge boulders surrounded by three steep walls that rise up over 1100 feet. The Nowell and Durange ridges form the western and eastern walls respectively.

We continue ascending King Ravine Trail climbing steeply up the 60-degree headwall of the bowl covering 1100 feet in a half-mile, to the junction with the Airline Trail and encounter a few other hikers ascending Mount Adams via the Airline Trail. We all decide to lunch on top of the exposed ridge just below the peak of Quincy Adams and a short distance from the top of Mount Adams. Mount Madison and Madison Springs Hut can be seen to the east.

Our relaxing lunch came with sunny skies, clear views and a welcoming breeze. About 1 p.m. we start ascending the first of the five peaks that make up the Mount Adams chain. One hour later, we bag the gusty peak of Mount Adams. Amongst the boulders we snack, snap pictures and absorb the 360-degree view, which includes Mount Washington, Madison, Jefferson and the Great Gulf Wilderness. At our feet, for miles around, lay fragile and rare plants called the alpine tundra, in a magnificient landscape containing the absence of trees. While some of the group opts to remain at the peak, a few of us proceed onto Sam Adams, Adams 4 and Adams 5, a couple of miles farther along the trail, and back again.

Our descent down the Airline Trail on Durange Ridge brings us continous views east and west as we carefully select our footing between the rocky points and krummholz. As we leave treeline heading back into the forest of spruce and fir, we come across Mossy Falls, small yet deserving of photography. We continue our descent of the Airline Trail taking several breaks to chat and rest our now aching feet and knees, then head back down through scattered patches of fern amongst the hardwoods and out to the hiker’s trailhead in the town of Appalachia where we gather for group pictures against the now-setting sun.

Steve Keri November 2002