Mt. Madison | 5,366′ | Strenuous
Mt. Madison (5,366 feet) is the farthest northeast of the high peaks of the Presidential Range, remarkable for the great drop of more than 4,000 feet to the river valleys east and northeast from the summit.
Note: for complete trail descriptions, times, elevation, trailhead directions, and major features, see the AMC White Mountain Guide.
Strenuous: The easiest route to Madison is probably via Madison Spring Hut, using the Valley Way and Osgood Trail. The Daniel Webster Scout Trail and the Osgood Trail offer routes of somewhat greater difficulty, rougher and much more exposed to weather. The Howker Ridge Trail is a beautiful, wild route, but is much rougher and requires some care to follow, particularly above treeline.
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.
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. Madison
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. Madison 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.
The Osgood Trail is the oldest trail still in use to the summit of Mt. Madison, and was built by Benjamin J. Osgood in 1878.