Adams from Jefferson Summit
Mt Adams - 5774'
The northern Presidentials are dominated by
Mt Adams, the second highest peak in NH. It is a long trip from any trailhead,
but unlike Washington there are several places to
stay on the mountain. The Randolph
Mountain Club (RMC) runs four backcountry facilities on the northern flanks of Adams;
Crag Camp, the
Perch, and the
There are also designated campsites in the Great
Gulf, the huge glacial ravine to the south of the peak. The
Appalchian Mountain Club (AMC)
runs Madison Springs Hut
a short distance from the summit. Just below the hut on the Valley Way, are the
Way Campsites, with two tent platforms.
Adams is located in some of the most difficult and rough terrain in
NH. There are two prominent ridges on the north side
and Nowell with King
Ravine, a large glacial cirque named after Rev. Starr King, in between.
To the south, the Great Gulf dominates. The
AT runs along the Gulfside trail, with Jefferson
to the south and Madison to the north. In the col between
Adams and Madison lies Star Lake.
There are a few smaller peaks near the main summit, including JQA, Sam
Adams, and Adams 4 and 5.
- Valley Way - This is one of the most well used and protected of the trails
from the north. The trail climbs steadily from Rt 2 to Madison Hut. From there follow the
Gulfside Trail over ot Airline and take that directly to the summit. Total distance 4.7 miles with
an elevation gain of 4500'.
- Airline - A direct but exposed route with excellent views; take care in bad weather.
Starting from Appalachia, the trail climbs fairly quickly to treeline at roughly 3 miles. From
there it stays on the Durand Ridge and crosses the narrow Knife Edge before crossing the Gulfside
trail and climbing rocky summit cone. Total distance 4.3 miles with an elevation gain of 4500'.
- King Ravine Trail - This is one of the more challanging routes up Adams, climbing up
through the rugged King Ravine and up the headwall. Starting at Appalachia go up the Airline to
Shortline to Randolph Path, eventually hitting the King Ravine trail at 2.7 miles. After passing
Mossy Falls it reaches the floor of the ravine and there are two options, the Elevated which is the
easier route and the Subway which climbs over, under, and around many large boulders. Another
short side trip is the Ice Caves Loop. The trail climbs over 1000' in half a mile, topping out
at a junction with the Airline trail and following it to the summit. Total distance 4.6 miles with
an elevation gain of 4500'.
- Lowe's Path - Possibly the most popular route to the summit of Adams, Lowe's Path
passes close by two of the RMC facilities. It starts across Rt 2 from Lowe's Store where parking
is available for a small fee. The trail climbs slowly at first, getting steeper higher up. At
3.2 miles it hits the Quay with excellent views and the short trail to Gray Knob. Above there
the trail is above treeline, passing over Adams IV to Thunderstorm Junction and on to the summit.
Total distance 4.7 miles with an elevation gain of 4500'.
- Star Lake - This trail is an alternate route from Madison Hut to Adams. It heads from
the hut past Star Lake then climbs steeply over rocky terrain to the summit from the Great Gulf side.
Total distance 1.0 miles with an elevation gain of 1000'.
- Appalachia - On Rt 2, approx one mile east of Lowe's
Store. Access to Airline, Valley Way and many other trails. A
WMNF parking pass is not needed here.
- Lowe's Store - On Rt 2, 4 miles west of intersection
with Rt 16 in Gorham. A private parking area is run by Lowe's Store
and a fee is charged per day. There is no parking allowed on Rt 2.
- Randolph East - On the Pinkham B (Dolly Copp)
road, just .2 miles from Rt 2. The trailhead for Randolph Path
requires a WMNF parking pass.
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