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  1. #1

    Default Suggestions for trail of day hike through Madison, Adams and Jefferson

    Good day to All,
    We are trying to do day hike from Randolph on Rt 2 in White Mountains through Mt. Madison, Adams and Jefferson during first weekend of October. I would appreciate any suggestions regarding the best trail selection and any remarks pertaining to conditions that we should expect during that weekend.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Port Clinton, Ohio


    Once you get into October, you need to be mindful of the weather, as the Whites can be unpredictable.
    It would be wise to put a link to the Mt. Washington weather station, and refer to it often.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  3. #3


    Madison/Adams loop is more practical then adding in Jefferson, which is kind of out of the way and a long, hard detour. A Madison/Adams loop can be done via the Valley Way trail on RT2. There were about 200 cars parked along the highway there this weekend. Your talking probably an 10 to 12 hour hike to do this loop. Average speed will be less then 1 mph. This is during ideal weather. A day like today with 50 - 60 MPH wind gusts makes it much harder, and this is a common occurrence. Hard to say what the weather would be like on the first weekend in October. If it happens to be a really nice fall day, then there will be those 200 cars at the trail head. Best show up at dawn. If it's not a really nice fall day, you shouldn't be going up there. And remember you don't have 10-12 hours of daylight. There are also a maze of trails on that side of the mountain, so try not to get lost.
    Last edited by Slo-go'en; 09-07-2020 at 20:40.
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  4. #4


    If you really want all three, you really want to do a car spot or set up a shuttle. Doing it with one car is definitely not recommended. All three are above treeline and fully exposed. The length of daylight on Columbus Day weekend is roughly 11 hours. Temps overnight will most likely be near freezing at the summits. It can warm up nicely during the day or it can be hypothermia weather. Weather conditions can and do change overnight so you will need to check the forecast from the Mt Washington Observatory in the early AM prior to starting out in the AM and having a backup plan as you may need to cancel your primary plan. Many make the big trip up north with a plan and when the forecast is marginal just head out regardless or rationalize that they will head out on the big trip and turn around if the weather is too nasty. The problem is that once you are above treeline clouds can move in and getting back to below treeline in zero visibility is not easy. Folks also do not bring enough gear and use the wrong fabrics. Its not the time of year for cotton. Synthetic layers are the key and you need enough gear to cover every inch of your skin. By Columbus day the summits can and do have occasionally have rime ice form overnight and although it probably melts once the sun is out its can be tricky in the AM. It also can be sunny and warm at the bases of the summits and far different up high. There is no reliable water except at Madison Hut. The hut most likely will not be open and since this is heavily used are you need to treat the water from the stream that heads down into the ravine south of the hut.

    Maps are not optional, electronic aids to navigation are a nice addition but they can and do fail. You need to be able to plan your options on how to get to safety below treeline. You also need to understand contour lines as there are several ravines on either side of the ridge that can suck you in and leave you exposed to the weather and stranded unable to go down to treeline. Ravine trails can be fun on nice day but very hazardous in bad weather. The Best most detailed map is the RMC "Randolph Valley and the Northern Peaks of the Presidential Range". You can order it from their website but its volunteer club so order it a few weeks in advance. Gorham Hardware in Gorham also stocks them. Mountain Wanderer may be faster than via the club but the club gets less profit.

    The trail bed is unlike anything hikers from outside the area are familiar with. Once you get near treeline, you are doing mostly boulder and rock hopping. There rarely is soil. The rocks are rough and angular and if you are not used to them its easy to twist and ankle and it can take longer than you would expect to cover miles.

    With all those cautions in place I will give you some options, none of them are "easy"

    Car Spot or shuttle (note there are very few commercial shuttle options and they will be expensive, hitching is not recommended as the hike starts and ends on dirt forest service roads)

    Spot a car at the Appalachia parking lot in the early AM in the dark (around 6:30) Drive back head west on RT2 to the Valley Road in Randolph, follow it until it turns to dirt and turn left on Jefferson Notch Road. Its seasonal narrow curvy dirt road. Plan on 20 MPH. Follow the road up to the high point and park at the Caps Ridge trailhead. Ideally you should be there right around sunrise (around 7 AM on Columbus Day weekend). Put on your cold weather gear and head out. Climbing the caps is steepest up climbing of the day there are several ledges that have to ascended using your hands. The short stretch of boulder hopping in the trees below the ledges are a sample of some of the typical conditions you will encounter over the day. Once you go over the third cap, the rocks and boulder hopping starts and rarely stops until you go down below treeline heading down off of Madison. Head to the summit f Jefferson and once you see the distance to Adams and the terrain do a "gut check", are the conditions what you expected and are you ready. If you do decide to turn around, stick with the the route you came up. There are some tempting mini loops on the map involving Castle Ridge trail to the north but the Link trail and the Cornice both are longer and harder than they look on the map. Once you head west towards Adams you are now a lot more committed and getting back to you car on Jefferson Notch Road requires a steep climb back up Jefferson. This is no short cut around the summit of Jefferson, all the alternatives may have less elevation but are longer with more exposure. So if the conditions are right and you are feeling good about this type of hiking head down to Edmands Col via the Mt Jefferson Loop to the Gulfside (The AT). Edmunds COl is the first reasonable option to head back to your car at Appalachia. Take Randolph Path past multiple trail junctions along the way to Valley Way and then out to Appalachia. Along the way you will cross Lowes Path, if you head down it you will end up on RT2 a couple of miles west of Appalachia.
    Now take the Gulfside to Thunderstorm junction and pickup Lowe's Path to the summit of Mt Adams. Do another gut check on the summit of Mt Adams. You have choice to get down to Madison Hut. Star Lake trail is more scenic giving you different views down into Madison Gulf. It is steeper and has some short ledgy sections and bit of shelter from a west wind. It saves no time compared to Airline. Airline is just another rock hop down to Gulfside. if the weather turns the Gulfside is the easiest to follow on the entire ridge. Airline is the another option to get back to Appalachia (avoid any of the trails that drop into Kings Ravine). At Madison Hut its time for another gut check. if you have the time and motivation take the AT up to summit of Madison and return via the same route. Its about 40 to 60 minutes out and back. Once you are back at the Hut head down Valley Way. Valley Way is shaded from the west so it will get dark quick. Its hard to get lost but have your headlamp ready as you most likely need it. Its hard to get lost as its quite well used, well marked and wide. Plan on 10 to 12 hour day for this hike if you are good shape and can deal with the rocky hiking.

    There are far better options if you leave out Jefferson for another day. Any hike including Adams is long day, the trail heads along RT2 are low so the total elevation gain is similar or more than Mt Washington. The standard loop is start at Applachia and take Airline up and then take Star Lake to get a taste of the views down into Madison Gulf then head over to Madison Hut and go grab Madison and then head down Valley Way. Even this loop takes 10 hours for many so have that headlamp ready.

    The northern peaks of the Presidential Range can be some great challenging hiking without the commercial disappointment of them Mt Washington summit but rescue access is far poorer. If we have nice weather and folks are prepared its some fun by challenging hiking in October. Plan a backup as its coin toss if the conditions are good enough to head up in October.

  5. #5


    Columbus day weekend is the second weekend in October (10-11-12) and should be avoided at all costs. It is a very busy weekend and motels in the area take full advantage of it, since they know the demand exceeds the supply.
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  6. #6


    Ist weekend of October will be just as busy. its the traditional peak of leaf season (it can vary by a couple of weeks). Accommodations of any type will be booked up.

    The WMNF seems to have abandoned enforcing the 1/4 mile no camping rule from any road so folks seem to be parking, heading up a trailhead and camping close to the road. FWIW, its fine if they enforce it.

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