Trail: Valley Way > Star Lake Trail > Osgood Trail
Miles: 10.4
Hours: 7:00 hiking; 7:45 total
Level: Moderate/Difficult

September 22, 2019

Mt. Adams (5,794’) and Mt. Madison (5,367’) are among the tallest mountains in New Hampshire! These two mountains are often hiked together, and some consider the hike among the most difficult. The views are well worth it though!


NOTE: There are many different trails to these summits and all gain between 4,000 - 5,000 feet of elevation. Expect to get your butt kicked but in a good way! This is a great hike and has become a personal favorite. Also, I would not recommend hiking this if it has rained recently. The rock scrambles would be very slick and dangerous.


Chelsea and I began the hike to Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison at 8:30 AM on a B-E-A-Utiful September day! The summit was predicted to be 60° which was INCREDIBLE for this late in September! We were so excited about a cloudless, warm day taking in the beautiful views of the White Mountains.

This hike is usually done as a loop up Airline to Mt. Adams, down Star Lake, up Osgood to Mt. Madison, and down Osgood to Valley Way since both Airline and Valley Way trails begin in the same parking lot. We, however, decided to hike this as an out and back via Valley Way because the wind gusts were predicted to get up to 50 mph. Airline is mainly above the treeline, so we thought it would be safer to be below the treeline longer in case the winds picked up! 

Valley Way Trail was a relatively straightforward hike with gradual inclines. The first mile of the trail was a great warm-up for the steeper inclines to come! There were many junctions along this trail, so I suggest paying close attention to where you are going to ensure you stay on the trail you need! After the first mile, we came to our first junction and continued on Valley Way. The next 1.5 miles climbed more steeply but leveled out between each section which was a great break! As I said before, this trail isn’t anything memorable, so it’s one we simply pushed through.

We soon approached a junction with Watson Path which would have brought us straight to Mt. Madison after another 1.5 miles of hiking. I heard people who hiked Watson say they regretted it because of the steepness lol, so we decided to continue on Valley Way! The final 1.4 miles of Valley Way was a constant steep incline, but I promise when you feel like you can’t make it any longer, Madison Spring Hut will suddenly appear!

We arrived at Madison Spring Hut at 10:30 AM and decided to take this time to use their bathroom before heading to Mt. Adams. The hut offered what looked like delicious snacks for a few dollars! They smelled so good, but sadly, neither of us had cash on us. 

After our quick break, we began the hike on Star Lake Trail to Mt. Adams. This 1-mile trail was DIFFICULT. The first half is very straightforward, but the second is a steep and rocky push to the summit. We were at times climbing straight up the side… it was FUN! It was super difficult, don’t get me wrong, but rock scrambling is fun! It was difficult at times to follow the path here, so we made sure to look for rock cairns to help guide us. OH YEAH… and there are about 43754302 false summits, so that was fun. We were like WE MADE IT and soon realized we still had more to climb lol.

After an hour of rock scrambling and false summiting, we finally made it the beautiful summit of Mt. Adams! The winds picked up here, but it felt great because it was very warm on the summit. And the views were out of this world! There was not a cloud in the sky, so we could see for miles. It was breathtaking! We soaked up the views for about a half-hour while enjoying our lunch. 

Summit of Mt. Adams

Summit of Mt. Adams

We finally tore our eyes away from the amazing view and began our scramble down. I used my hands a lot of on the way down because honestly, it was difficult lol. I felt way more in control on the rock scrambles using my hands. Some people just rock hop their way down SO fast, but that was not me. I don’t feel safe doing that! 

After another hour of hiking, we were back at the hut! We took a few minutes to fill up our hydration packs before heading up Osgood Trail to Mt. Madison. As soon as we started on Osgood, the scramble to the summit began. It was a constant, steep push, so we kept our heads down and kept hiking rather than looking up to see how far we had to go. It was only 0.4 miles to the summit, but it made us put in some hard work! After about 20 minutes, we made it to the summit! The wind was picking up, so we only stayed on the summit for 15 minutes and enjoyed the view. We met a lot of great hikers up here, and it made me love this community even more (didn’t think it was possible to love it more)! 

After enjoying our snack and the views, we began our final descent. It took us another 20 minutes to get back to the hut because the rock scrambles were tough going down, similar to Mt. Adam’s. After we arrived at the hut, we turned directly onto Valley Way and continued downward. We thought we were going to beat our ascent time, but it took us 2 hours to get back to the car! I think we were going much faster during our ascent than we thought…

The descent was kind of a blur. We were just making our way quickly down to the car and chatting away, so it went by quickly! Soon enough, we were back at the car at 4:15 PM and were feeling TIRED. This was a long and tough hike, but one of my new favorites!