So when I was planning this hike, I was pretty jazzed about the fact that we’d be on a part of the famed Appalachian Trail. I was equating it to the PCT of the west, with its great trail and views and signage etc. I can’t begin to say how much this is nothing like the PCT. I am sure there are wonderful segments of this trail somewhere, this just isn’t one of them. I’m quite sure this could qualify as the worst stretch of it all. If not, and there are worse sections of it, then I won’t be visiting them. My wife and I fully intended on going all the way to Mt. Madison and back as our day hike. I mean, it’s only 9 miles round trip. Not anything we aren’t accustomed to at least. But this trail, from the git go, had us wondering if the last time someone was on it was during the civil war. It was the worst. Rocks and roots and boulders and you name it. You couldn’t keep a steady pace if you tried. And we soon realized, there was no way we would make the top, at all, much less in any given time frame. After stumbling over endless amounts of roots and rocks and climbing over huge boulders that the trail went right over, we had had enough, and we had only gone about 2 ½ miles?? I just couldn’t believe the areas where the trail went over massive boulders, instead of around them?? You wind up sliding down the down side of these rocks, it’s crazy. Not sure who designed this trail section, but it’s not one to write home about. Then we were left with the thought of having to go back over that ugly 2 ½ miles again to get back to our car. But better that than 4 ½. When I called the ranger station before we left asking whether we could park along the Mt. Washington road right there, she had said most people don’t hike Madison in one day. I told her I wasn’t most people. Well, turns out I was quickly schooled on her knowledge of said trail. I won’t be back to try again either. What a miserable mess to walk on. I’d give it one star, but feel because of its fame and notoriety, I will reluctantly give it 3. As a grade score, F
A far superior trip up Washington over Tuckerman, but definitely not for the faint of heart. Started at sunrise and was glad we did as it's a lengthy trip up there. Gradual yet steady climb up under the tree line for a few miles which serves as a nice warmup. When the ravine comes into sight things get real. I was with two other gentlemen over 6' and we needed every inch for the scrambles. Some sketchy passes for sure that require tossing your pack up ahead of you. The descent down Tuckerman was a killer on the knees, but overall an unforgettable hike. Didn't see many others on the ascent which was a nice alternative to the novice-saturated Tuckerman. Definitely don't attempt if you are a novice hiker or shorter or not in outstanding shape. Happy trails
Ethan S. on Lost Pond Trail
Went on this trail on an overnight with my school. Hiked this trail on the second day when it was raining. Very peaceful when I got to Lost Pond. Had lunch on a flat rock, and the trail was easy to me. I hiked up Glenn Boulder the day before, and it tired me and my legs out. This trail on the other hand was a very easy trail, minimal large slopes, extremely easy to hike even with a large pack on, and is also a great view in the rain.
The first 15 minutes is very easy and then it's steep from there. I put my spikes about 1 mile from the summit, although one hiker didn't put spikes on at all. The sky was crystal clear so I had great views of Washington, Monroe, and Jefferson and could see for miles past! The cairns on the summit were amazing!! Fairly windy up top, so you might want face gear if you want to last more than 10 minutes at the summit. The trail was moderately trafficked and it took me 2.5 hours to go up and 1.5 hour to get down. (I ran down pretty much).
This was my first 4k and it's a heckuva way to start! There was a fair amount of snow on the ground when we hiked it and it was a relatively warm day, so it got a little slippery as the day progressed. Decided to abort when we got to the rock scrambling above the tree line. We'd done rock scrambling before (but not in the Whites) without problem but that first big scramble left you feeling like one slip and you're tumbling on down the mountain. That combined with high wind and slippery snow, which also led to uncertain footing, led us to reluctantly abort.
The hike was beautiful and manageable, with amazing views, up until the scramble above the tree line, which is not for the faint of heart or on a wet day. Found out later this trail is rated as one of the 25 or so most difficult trails in the Whites. What a way to start! We went big AND went home - a little disappointed but a lot wiser!