|Difficulty:||Basic Snow/Ice Climb|
|Best months for climbing:||Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec|
Thanks to bobby M for adding this peak.
"The warnings about weather and strenuousness given for Mount Washington are just as applicable to the Northern Peaks."
"The most direct (and most commonly used) route up Mt. Madison is the Valley Way from the Appalachia trailhead to Madison Hut, followed by the Osgood Trail to the summit [rt: 8.4 miles, 4,100 feet, 6:15]. The trail is in the trees, and thus protected from the wind, almost all the way to the hut, which is a good objective if the weather does not allow for a summit attempt. In good weather one can start up the Valley Way, then take the Watson Path to the summit, descend to the hut and take the Valley way back (same distance and elevation gain). The Valley Way, while steep, is less steep and smoother than most of the other trails in the Northern Presidentials. The Watson Path is steeper and rougher, and also more exposed to the weather.
Another loop that is often done is to go up to Madison Hut by the Airline Trail and Airline Cutoff trails, then use the Osgood trail to go to the summit of Mt. Madison and back, and return by the Valley Way [rt:8.3, 4,100 feet, 6:10]. The Airline has much better views than the Valley Way, but it is more exposed and somewhat steeper.
The Howker Ridge Trail [rt: 9.0 miles, 4,350 feet, 6:40] starts at Randolph East, at the north end of the Dolly Copp Road. The trail goes through woods with several interesting waterfalls, then ascends the crest of Howker Ridge, which has four little bumps called Howks, three of which have good views. It joins the Osgood Ridge trail shortly before the summit of Mt. Madison. A loop can be made going up the Howker Ridge trail, and descending by the Osgood Trail to the hut, then taking the Valley Way and Randolph Path back to the car [lp: 9.4 miles, 4,350 feet, 6:50].
The Daniel Webster Scout Trail [rt: 8.2 miles, 4,100 feet, 6:10] starts at the Dolly Copp campground road, about 0.9 miles south of the campground entrance. The upper part of the trail, below its junction with the Osgood Trail is very steep.
The Osgood Trail from the Osgood Cutoff to Madison Hut is part of the AT and so is often used. Day hikers reach it by the Great Gulf Trail [rt: 10.2 miles, 4,100 feet, 7:10]. It has a long section above treeline, this gives great views on days with good weather, but substantial exposure when the weather is less good. There is a very rough (rocks and roots) and steep section before treeline. It can be used as the final segment of a hike from Pinkham Notch to Madison Hut, using the Old Jackson Road, Madison Gulf and (for a short distance) Great Gulf Trails. That is the route of the AT.
The Madison Gulf Trail is one of the many trails that go up over the headwalls of the many glacial cirques that surround the Presidentials. Like all of them it is steep and rocky, and requires occasional scrambles. In exchange you get great views while on the trail, in addition to the views you get at the summit. Take the Great Gulf Trail to its junction with the Madison Gulf Trail, then follow Madison Gulf trail to its end on the Parapet Trail. Follow the Parapet Trail, then Star Lake Trail, to the Madison Hut, and take the Osgood Trail to the summit of Mt. Madison. You can return the same way [rt: 12.8 miles; 4,150 feet; 8:30] or descend by the Osgood Trail [lp: 11.5 miles; 4,150 feet; 7:50]." (http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/madison.html)
long and fun hike/climb... good trainer for washingtons extreme weather.
Thanks to bobby M for this description.