Mount Adams (5,774′) is located in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. It is the second highest mountain on the New Hampshire 4000 Footer list as well as the second highest mountain in New England. It is extremely rugged and exposed to extreme weather conditions.
Mount Adams has two major sub peaks: Mount Sam Adams and Mount Quincy Adams, which are on the Trailwrights 72 list.
Of all the NH 4000 footers, it has the greatest elevation gain via its standard routes. There are two direct routes to hike Mount Adams.
Option 1: Airline Trail – round trip: 8.6 miles, 4,500 feet, 6:30
This route begins at the Appalachia Trailhead. There is plenty of parking here. The trail begins behind the wooden information booth and begins below treeline. You will see signs for Air Line Trail which you will hike up. Air Line and Valley Way start out sharing the trail, but after crossing the old railroad bed (the Presidential Range Rail Trail) and reaching the edge of a power-line clearing, the trail will fork. Follow Air Line to the right.
The trail can be confusing because there are many intersecting trails. 2/10 of a mile into the hike you will pass the intersection for The Link and Sylvan Way, then you will approach another intersection 4/10 of a mile after that for Beechwood Way.
At 9/10 of a mile, Air Line will coincide with Randolph Path for 20 yards and then bears left uphill.
At 3.7 miles, Air Line joins Gulfside Trail which is also the Appalachian Trail and follows it for 70 yards before diverging off to the left. This above treeline stretch can become difficult to navigate especially in poor weather. At 4.3 miles, you will arrive on the summit of Mount Adams.
Option 2: Lowes Path – round trip: 9.6 miles, 4,450 feet, 7:00
Perhaps the easiest way to climb Mt Adams by itself would be to hike via Lowes Path. With moderate grades (except for the very steep middle section-it is the Whites after all!), generally good footing, and excellent views, it’s a great path. Like any route in the Presidential Range, it still has considerable exposure to weather once you get above treeline. Hikers are able to park at Lowe’s Store (small parking fee charged at store-no parking allowed on route 2) and walk across Route 2 to the signed trailhead. The trail climbs slowly at first and gets steeper as you ascend which is nice for warming up your legs. After 1.5 miles you are above treeline so be very aware of the weather. At mile 1.8 the King Ravine Trail forks to the left. Be careful not to continue right down Randolph Path at mile 2.7. At 3.2 miles you get excellent views West. You will pass over Adams IV to thunderstorm junction to arrive at the rocky summit at mile 4.7.
(i.e. less traveled or significantly more difficult) include Castle Trail and Great Gulf. Very strong and experienced hikers can hike a Presidential Traverse either in a single day or on a multi-day trip using the White Mountain huts.
Mount Madison is roughly 1.4 miles from the summit of Mount Adams.
Mount Jefferson is roughly 2.3 miles from the summit of Mount Adams.
You may also want to check out these resources
Hike Mount Madison
Hike Mount Jefferson
Hike Mount Washington