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White Mountain NF: Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison Loop

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Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 8.5 miles


Ascend two White Mountain peaks on this 8.5-mile sneak route to the Appalachian Trail's best view in the state.
  • Foggy View from Mt. Adams
  • Mt. Madison Summit
  • View of Adams and Mt. Washington from Mt. Madison
  • Mt. Adams

The Appalachain Trail through the Presidentials is no-joke busy in the summer. Ditto the Appalachia parking lot, where this hike begins. But when the peak-bagger ant parade takes the Valley Way Trail to the top of Mt. Adams, take the Air Line Trail to avoid the crowds.

After crossing NH 2, fork right onto the Air Line Trail and begin a steady ascent through dense forest. Pass trail junctions for the Beechwood Trail (mile .6), and Scar Trail (mile .9), heading due south on the Air Line. Gain Durand Ridge at mile 2.2 and ascend into the alpine zone with the first glimpse of views that await you higher up. Continue straight at 2.9 miles, as the ridge drops sharply to your right. Cross the AT at mile 3.4 and haul yourself over fridge-size boulders to reach the Mt. Adams' 5,774-foot summit at mile 3.9.

Hike an airy mile to summit 5,367-foot Mt. Madison on the Madison Hut cut-off. Snap a few pictures of this White Mountain tableaux which includes Mt. Adams, Mt. Washington, and Wildcat Ski Area. Descend on the Watson Path for 1.5 miles, then connect with the throng post-summit peak baggers for the final two miles of Valley Way Trail back to the trailhead.

-Mapped by Benjamin Tupper

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