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PSA-there are no ‘stairs’ on Mt Stairs. In fact, there is a doable but challenging section of stairs that is the most difficult of the whole hike. The ascension rate of the early section of the trail is what makes this rating a difficult- and somewhat the length, if you plan on summiting all 3 peaks. I enjoyed the hike to and views from Crawford the most. The walk to the other two peaks is woodsy and pleasant but longer than you’d expect. My (57 year old) knees rate this as a 3-Aleve hike

The path is really nice, however it's also really hard. Actually I didn't do really well and almost gave up. Indeed it was reckless to go along alone. Some part of the path are quite dangerous moreover when it's a bit wet. Indeed you have to climb some rocks for a long way. It could be easy to be hurt. I recommend to anyone who wants to try
at least be accompagnied by one person and be in a good health condition. Do not attempt this hike if it's too wet or the weather doesn't look safe. But for me it would be out of question to take a kid there.

fun trail but more than moderate difficulty. tree line starts much earlier than valley way. from there its rocks and scrambles to the top, sometimes steep.

This is one of the most direct, streamlined routes to traverse the Presidential range, whilst including the summit's of Mt. Jackson & Webster. The start of the trail approaches Mt. Madison from Pine Mountain and follows the classic route along Crawford Path, et. al., to finish at the depot. This is a strenuous, 1 day trek that should only be attempted by experienced hikers. It requires significant preparation & knowledge of alternate/bail-out routes in case of an emergency.

Getting up to Mount Madison via the Watson Path is FUN. Probably the most fun I've ever had on a trail. But I actually audibly gasped when I noticed that AllTrails gave it a "Moderate" rating. It's not Moderate. It's Hard-- at least. I get that the ratings are subjective depending on surrounding trails (or so I'd imagine), but this trail is definitely hard and I do a LOT of a hiking.

But seriously, such a fun a trail. It took my group and I 3 hours to get to the top with the last .5 miles taking the longest. It took 9 hours total from the Valley Way trailhead and back with a substantial break at the Madison Hut and adding the summit of Adams in super (SUPER) sketchy very limited-visibility weather conditions.

While the Watson Path is seriously fun, if you're doing a Traverse, you may just want to bite the bullet and do Valley Way the entire way up to the hut, double-back to summit Madison and then continue on to conserve energy and maybe save some time.

Our goal was to knock off Mt. Madison & Mt. Adams in the same day view a loop. This loop accomplished that goal, however, I would not recommend this particular loop. We summited Mt. Madison first via the Howker Ridge Trail. A few miles into the trail we encounter, moose poo all along the trail for the next mile or so (enough to fill a few wheel barrows). From the start of the trailhead, we hiked for 2 hours (2.8 miles) before we got our first view, then it's back into the trees for another .6 miles. From here on, it's beautiful hiking above treeline up Mt. Madison, then down to Madison Spring Hut for a short break, then on to Mt. Adams. Including the short break it took about 5 hours to reach Mt. Adams. Now the decent ... we took the Great Gully Trail down into the ravine. This trail does not start out too bad, but quickly becomes steep and dangerous. There are dozens of scrambles down this very steep ravine, that I would not recommend except for the highly adventurous hiker. After about a mile of these super steep scrambles, the trail connects to a much more moderate trail for 3+ more miles back to the trailhead. If we were to do this loop again, I think we would have skipped the Great Gully Trail and take a shorter, easier Airline Trail to complete the loop.

Hard hard hard and steep from the beginning of the Watson trail from valley trail. False summits and some scrambling in winds and sleet (October) make it all the more challenging - but totally worth it. Amazing day. Took us 6 hours from valley to Watson and back down valley.

NOT A MODERATE DIFFICULTY TRAIL.

From the beginning, the Watson Path is a challenge. Shortly after a brook crossing the terrian becomes very rough and gains elevation quickly. It does not let up until you reach the top of the ridge.

Once you break above treeline, the trail mostly dissappears and you climb from carin to carin over rocks and boulders.

There are three false summits on the ascent that make this trail mentally taxing.

I would not recommend this trail for descent, due to its rugged and steep sections, however you could descend if you are carefully and take your time.

Valley Way and Airline are far less taxing ways to ascend Mt. Madison. This trail should only be attempted by people in good physical condition.

A few tricky brook crossings on this link trail.