Note: For complete trail descriptions, times, elevation, trailhead directions, and major features, see the AMC White Mountain Guide or try our new White Mountain Guide Online.
Mt. Adams is the second highest peak in New England, offering spectacular views across the Great Gulf and King Ravine.
Strenuous: There are numerous direct routes to Mt. Adams, such as Lowe’s Path and the Air Line, not to mention the routes via Madison Hut; the most popular route to the hut combines the Valley Way, Gulfside Trail, and Lowe’s Path. The King Ravine Trail (including the variations afforded by the Great Gully Trail and the Chemin des Dames–Air Line combination) provides what are possibly the most scenic routes to the summit, but these are all extremely strenuous. One attractive route that is no more strenuous than the direct trails follows the Valley Way, the Scar Trail and Loop, and the Air Line, thereby including the fine ledge outlook called the Scar and the long, open knife-edged section of Durand Ridge. Another route, perhaps a bit steeper and rougher than the direct routes, follows the Amphibrach, Randolph Path, and Spur Trail to Thunderstorm Junction, passing the Knight’s Castle, an unusual and spectacular viewpoint on the brink of King Ravine’s cliffs.
The AMC's Madison Spring Hut is located near the Valley Way and Gulfside Trails, and is open from mid-June to early September, offering meals and overnight accommodations.
The AMC’s Hiker Shuttle stops at the Appalachia/Valley Way Trailhead, connecting with overnight accommodations at The Highland Center and Joe Dodge Lodge.
Safety in Summer and early Fall
The AMC recommends all hikers check weather conditions in advance, carry a current map and guidebook, along with a compass and knowledge of how to use it. For recommendations on how to plan a safe hike in the White Mountains, see: The 10 essentials for a safe and pleasant hike.
Winter Hiking on Mt. Adams
Winter hiking anywhere in the White Mountains requires specialized equipment and skills, and experience in coping with weather, navigation, and winter gear. Extremely severe storms can develop suddenly and unexpectedly, especially above treeline. The combination of high wind and low temperatures has such a cooling effect that the worst conditions on Mt. Adams are approximately equal to the worst reported from Antarctica, despite the much greater cold in the latter region. Hikers interested in extending their activities into winter are strongly advised to seek out organized trips with leaders who have extensive winter experience. Several AMC chapters offer winter hiking and backpacking instruction, and AMC offers several guided winter mountaineering trips; search for "Instruction" in AMC's activity listings. Helpful information can also be found in the AMC Guide to Winter Hiking and Camping.
Note: The peaks of the Northern Presidentials are nearly as exposed to the elements as Mt. Washington, and should be treated with the same degree of respect and caution. Severe winterlike storms can occur at any time of the year.
Lowe’s Path was the first trail to reach Mt. Adams and was built between 1875 and 1876.