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Thread: Adams And Jefferson With Randolph Path

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Adams And Jefferson With Randolph Path

    Been looking at ways to combine Adams and Jefferson into a single hike. My ideal plan would be to take the Lowes Path to Adams, cut over to Jefferson via Gulfside, climb Jefferson and then return via Randolph Path (or possibly Gray Knob trail) to avoid reclimbing to Thunderstorm junction and also shaving the total mileage down for the hike. I'm really not seeing any mention of Randolph Path in the trip reports online. Has that route basically stopped being used now that everyone does Jefferson via Jewell Trail? Would only be doing if weather were favorable and I was still feeling good after Adams. Figured even if no one took this route cutting over to where Randolph Path emerges from trees should be fairly packed and the trail corridor from there back to Lowes Path is fairly pronounced and not super far even if I had to break the trail in there.

    Anyone have thoughts on that "loop"? I assumed these trails would get use with Gray Knob cabin or possibly the Perch but not seeing much for it.
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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Randolph Path from Israel Ridge/Gray Knob junction (can't recall which is first, but they are really close) to the Perch is in fine shape as of a couple years ago. The footing on the Gray Knob trail is terrible most of the way, so I would strongly recommend the Randolph Path for at least that stretch. I have only done the lower portion to Lowe's Path in winter, so while the grades are nice and the path was clear, I can't speak to the footing.

    If you are planning to go in winter, then I would still recommend this descent as it avoids the steeps that are often glissaded smooth on Lowe's Path (between RP and GK). It will be obvious if the trail is broken on your way up too, and it does see winter use.
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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    Randolph Path from Israel Ridge/Gray Knob junction (can't recall which is first, but they are really close) to the Perch is in fine shape as of a couple years ago. The footing on the Gray Knob trail is terrible most of the way, so I would strongly recommend the Randolph Path for at least that stretch. I have only done the lower portion to Lowe's Path in winter, so while the grades are nice and the path was clear, I can't speak to the footing.

    If you are planning to go in winter, then I would still recommend this descent as it avoids the steeps that are often glissaded smooth on Lowe's Path (between RP and GK). It will be obvious if the trail is broken on your way up too, and it does see winter use.
    Sorry. I should have been more clear that I specifically meant Winter.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 44/48; NY 46: 3/46

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    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    Lowe's-Randolph was the traditional route before the Cog was plowed and I'd still consider it perfectly reasonable. The peakbagger focus has shifted to Jewell but there are still plenty of people who come out to play in the northern Presis. It draws aficionados of the great ranges, including people I've hiked with who pretty much do nothing in the Whites but northern Presis in winter. Last year I did Jefferson-Adams going up Castle, down VW. Was supposed to do Madison but the winds kicked up too much...was around 30 gusting 50 most of the day, enough to be very tiring, and then getting worse. A decent but by no means great day, wouldn't expect crowds. We bumped into one group of 4 that had come up Lowes-Randolph and another group of 2, plus there was the solo gentleman from the 'dacks who (unbeknownst to all) was dying in Castle Ravine. There's definitely traffic on that side of the mountain and I wouldn't consider it irresponsible or overreaching for you to do day hikes from there. Mohamed's note is that anybody planning both peaks from that side is usually planning on a night at the RMC, probably not so much these days; Steve's book mentions it as a perfectly reasonable route with advice to stay off the Castles and out of Castle Ravine.... If you're solo and find Lowe's unbroken that might make your decision for you though!

    If you do go to Adams first, remember that's putting both of your passages through Edmands later in the day and further from when you've checked the forecast. Pay close attention on the first pass through and think about where the wind's going to be coming from on your way back!

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    There are quite a few school groups who park at Appalachia and roam around the northern presidentials pretty much from now until March 20th. The first stretch of Randolph Path from Edmunds Col is dangerously exposed to the west wind and the inevitable turbulence formed by the wind interacting with Castle Ridge. It isi well marked with cairns in the most exposed area but the cairn tends to taper off. There is also at least one spot where the trail turns sharply uphill (right) but its very easy to keep continuing on down into Castle Ravine due to the terrain. It is the "best of the worse" if you are stuck in Edmands and need to escape as it does get into scrub the quickest and also gets you headed to the RMC facilities. Someone hiking this solo needs their "A game" in place
    Last edited by peakbagger; 02-07-2017 at 04:49 AM. Reason: correct spelling

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    There are quite a few school groups who park at Appalachia and roam around the northern presidentials pretty much from now until March 20th. The first stretch of Randolph Path from Edmunds Col is dangerously exposed to the west wind and the inevitable turbulence formed by the wind interacting with Castle Ridge. It si well marked with cairns in the most exposed area but the cairn tent to taper off. There is also at least one spot where the trail turns sharply uphill (right) but its very easy to keep continuing on down into Castle Ravine due to the terrain. It is the "best of the worse" if you are stuck in Edmands and need to escape as it does get into scrub the quickest and also gets you headed to the RMC facilities. Someone hiking this solo needs their "A game" in place
    Agreed - and my impression is that the 'entrances' to both RP and GKT can be obscured by drifts, putting on at risk of meandering over spruce/krummholz traps. From what I recall, the RP had a more abrupt entry/exit, so finding the woods might be easier, but if the trails are bent over with snow and ice it might not be obvious. It would be good to know your bearings ahead of time for the different trails.

    If you opt to do Adams second (which is what I'd suggest as you can more easily bail after doing Jefferson if needed), the spur trail is a nice descent that is well marked (and almost parallels Lowe's near Thunderstorm junction). That will drop you down to the trees and out of the teeth of a west wind pretty quickly if you need respite from the win. From Crag Camp you can easily work back towards Lowe's in the shelter of the woods. If you continue down spur you'd need to take the King Ravine Trail to connect back to Lowe's, which has a lower chance of being broken, but the Amphibrach likely will be and is a very pleasant walk out. You'd just need to hitch or road walk back to Lowe's Store.

    I'm hoping to do a similar hike in March, but hopefully adding Madison and sledding down VW! We'll see!
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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    There are quite a few school groups who park at Appalachia and roam around the northern presidentials pretty much from now until March 20th. The first stretch of Randolph Path from Edmunds Col is dangerously exposed to the west wind and the inevitable turbulence formed by the wind interacting with Castle Ridge. It si well marked with cairns in the most exposed area but the cairn tent to taper off. There is also at least one spot where the trail turns sharply uphill (right) but its very easy to keep continuing on down into Castle Ravine due to the terrain. It is the "best of the worse" if you are stuck in Edmands and need to escape as it does get into scrub the quickest and also gets you headed to the RMC facilities. Someone hiking this solo needs their "A game" in place
    I would be alone and would not consider doing both unless weather was good. I've done all these trails several times in Summer/Fall but haven't been in this area with snow. Many have cautioned in old threads about Edmands Col and it's winds and snowfields. I like the idea of traveling downhill to here from Adams to "regroup" from the big climb to Adams. If I opt to skip Jefferson I'll at least get a chance to check out the area first hand
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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    Agreed - and my impression is that the 'entrances' to both RP and GKT can be obscured by drifts, putting on at risk of meandering over spruce/krummholz traps. From what I recall, the RP had a more abrupt entry/exit, so finding the woods might be easier, but if the trails are bent over with snow and ice it might not be obvious. It would be good to know your bearings ahead of time for the different trails.

    If you opt to do Adams second (which is what I'd suggest as you can more easily bail after doing Jefferson if needed), the spur trail is a nice descent that is well marked (and almost parallels Lowe's near Thunderstorm junction). That will drop you down to the trees and out of the teeth of a west wind pretty quickly if you need respite from the win. From Crag Camp you can easily work back towards Lowe's in the shelter of the woods. If you continue down spur you'd need to take the King Ravine Trail to connect back to Lowe's, which has a lower chance of being broken, but the Amphibrach likely will be and is a very pleasant walk out. You'd just need to hitch or road walk back to Lowe's Store.

    I'm hoping to do a similar hike in March, but hopefully adding Madison and sledding down VW! We'll see!
    I'll definitely have waypoints and a map with bearings, study the satellite images,etc. I wouldn't be attempting in poor weather. I remember Randolph Path having a very pronounced alley way of sorts where it reenters trees and it staying fairly straight until trees get fairly tall so getting into trail shouldn't be too bad. Should I expect a lot of snow in there being a NW exposure? I would have expected that area to be fairly windswept and firm. I did Lowes Path once in late November up to Abigail Adams and then bushwhacked over to Spur to come back. Lowes was very firm with rocks showing. Spur had tons of powder and drifts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jniehof View Post
    Lowe's-Randolph was the traditional route before the Cog was plowed and I'd still consider it perfectly reasonable. The peakbagger focus has shifted to Jewell but there are still plenty of people who come out to play in the northern Presis. It draws aficionados of the great ranges, including people I've hiked with who pretty much do nothing in the Whites but northern Presis in winter. Last year I did Jefferson-Adams going up Castle, down VW. Was supposed to do Madison but the winds kicked up too much...was around 30 gusting 50 most of the day, enough to be very tiring, and then getting worse. A decent but by no means great day, wouldn't expect crowds. We bumped into one group of 4 that had come up Lowes-Randolph and another group of 2, plus there was the solo gentleman from the 'dacks who (unbeknownst to all) was dying in Castle Ravine. There's definitely traffic on that side of the mountain and I wouldn't consider it irresponsible or overreaching for you to do day hikes from there. Mohamed's note is that anybody planning both peaks from that side is usually planning on a night at the RMC, probably not so much these days; Steve's book mentions it as a perfectly reasonable route with advice to stay off the Castles and out of Castle Ravine.... If you're solo and find Lowe's unbroken that might make your decision for you though!

    If you do go to Adams first, remember that's putting both of your passages through Edmands later in the day and further from when you've checked the forecast. Pay close attention on the first pass through and think about where the wind's going to be coming from on your way back!
    One of my absolute bucket list hikes for NH is to do the Castles in Winter to Jefferson or Edmands Col. But I don't think my conditioning is where it needs to be right now for the potential trail breaking with so much vertical and likely slow pace negotiating the Castles. I was going to do Adams and Jefferson as separate hikes but it seems like a reasonable loop to do both in relatively low mileage so I may try to bag both in one hike. I also want to do Adams first so I get at least one summit out of the trip should Edmands Col conditions not be good versus heading there first and being turned back early and "empty handed". As plans for FEB and MAR start to fill my calendar my seemingly unlimited amount of hiking time seems to be getting siphoned off into other things. Only have 4 peaks left on my list so trying to make the most of my trips up from CT. These are the only two peaks I can potentially combine (Zealand and Isolation are the other two). I'll probably save the Castles for next year (or late March) when peakbagging is not a concern. I'll enjoy it a lot more that way.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 44/48; NY 46: 3/46

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    I'll definitely have waypoints and a map with bearings, study the satellite images,etc. I wouldn't be attempting in poor weather. I remember Randolph Path having a very pronounced alley way of sorts where it reenters trees and it staying fairly straight until trees get fairly tall so getting into trail shouldn't be too bad. Should I expect a lot of snow in there being a NW exposure? I would have expected that area to be fairly windswept and firm. I did Lowes Path once in late November up to Abigail Adams and then bushwhacked over to Spur to come back. Lowes was very firm with rocks showing. Spur had tons of powder and drifts.
    The RP below the Perch had a ton of snow a couple April's ago - we were near the tree tops for a good stretch - same with the Perch Path to GK, so it definitely gets filled in in the trees. As for above treeline, I'd expect it to be more scoured given the winds. As for Lowe's, it's a more open, more NW exposed section, so I'd expect it to be more scoured than Spur, but if you want to avoid the wind, Spur might be a better option even if it's drifted more. If you go on a nice day, then it doesn't matter.
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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    When I was more list driven, a group of us did Lowe's in November as a warm up for doing it that winter. There is a significant amount of above treeline travel exposed to the west. When we went back in winter we did VW to Adams and back.

    A couple of winters later one of that crew & I did Jefferson in November from Appalachia going up and back by Randolph. The length of the trip, the exposure and the side hill drifting of snow were things that kept us from doing it in the winter that way. (& they opened up base road so you could do it from the cog)

    If you not in your prime conditioning & looking for an alpine start and on a stellar day, then that amount of time above treeline would be an amazing day. What probably is more likely is that during the day, weather would change. You have two long days (Zealand and Isolation) and two peaks with substantial above treeline exposure. If you are picking weekends to head up north, I'd look at doing Adams & Jefferson as separate trips by the customary routes. (You could do Adams on less that a stellar (but still good) day by Valley way) If the weather that day looks unfavorable, the two long days you have planned aren't very exposed. (both have spots were it could be, Isolation on top & on the way to Zealand, the wet area the trail goes through near the view may let some wind through and a couple of the small open views between there and Zealand could be windswept. Both of the lower peaks are long trips though)

    I still have Zealand & Jefferson left but while doing scouts with my son, unsure I'll get back to do either. Zealand is planned as a last trip staying at the hut & then going out over the Bonds as I have those left too. (Along with OH, Passaconaway & Whiteface, 40/48 in winter & 41/48 in summer which I want to finish with the kids, easy summer ones left. Done them all in Spring & Fall with an extra 78 trips in Spring & Fall. Right now, more interested in doing the last four I need in the ADK for the 115)

    Just be careful. there have been fatalities by people you waive good judgement as they get close to the end of the list. There was a fatality on Fort back in the 90's for a hiker finishing the 100 highest. Fort was his last of the 100 he needed. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-8330787.html
    Last edited by Mike P.; 02-07-2017 at 06:20 AM. Reason: added link to 1995 story
    Have fun & be safe
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    Senior Member Grey J's Avatar
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    My memory of the upper Randolph Path is that it's a very pretty trail from the Gulfside all the way back to Lowes Path, but of course that was a summer hike. I recall it as very scenic, narrow in places, and as a fairly well graded and gradual descent. I did this a couple of years ago on a loop touching Abigail Adams (aka 4), Adams, and Adams 5.
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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    Just be careful. there have been fatalities by people you waive good judgement as they get close to the end of the list. There was a fatality on Fort back in the 90's for a hiker finishing the 100 highest. Fort was his last of the 100 he needed. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-8330787.html
    I'm very conservative by nature hiking alone. Summit fever is not in my vocabulary. If it's time to turn around I'll turn around. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to do the Winter 48 4ks because after doing the regular list I knew there were many peaks I had absolutely no desire to see again, especially with the added road walks of Winter. Somewhere along the line last year I banged out quite a few though and found myself with about a dozen left this year so I said what the hell. Been trying to alternate hikes I was dreading (from a boredom perspective, not safety) and hikes I was really looking forward to. Isolation is probably the last hike I have left that I really have no desire to do so it'll be next on the list. Then Zealand, where I'm going to take along the pulk I built last year for part of it to distract myself from the 7 miles of roadwalk on that one. Not worried about the mileage for either of those.

    Big concern was Edmands Col and all the evil things I hear about it and the difficulty of hitting Randolph Path on the return trip. It saves a lot of mileage and vertical combining into on trip so hopefully it works out. These are the types of hikes I look forward to every Winter. If things don't feel right I'll split up the two and return for Jefferson via Jewell. And I despise Valley Way so no route I take will involve that trail. Only take that trail when I absolutely have to. Too boring and crowded. On my "avoid" list for the Whites.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 44/48; NY 46: 3/46

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey J View Post
    My memory of the upper Randolph Path is that it's a very pretty trail from the Gulfside all the way back to Lowes Path, but of course that was a summer hike. I recall it as very scenic, narrow in places, and as a fairly well graded and gradual descent. I did this a couple of years ago on a loop touching Abigail Adams (aka 4), Adams, and Adams 5.
    It is a very nice area. Randolph Path, except for a few spots, is indeed a very comfortable and easy to follow trail in the non snow months. Use various sections of it during the Summer cutting back and forth to different spots. Assuming it isn't a wind drifted nightmare it seemed like it would be a comfortable way to return from Edmands Col versus reclimbing to Thunderstorm junction to come down the ridge. Saves mileage and vertical.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 44/48; NY 46: 3/46

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Understand your POV on Valley Way. What I've done on a few occasions is to start on Valley Way and then cross over to the Airline on the Scar Trail. It avoids the steepest below treeline parts of the Airline, offers a view in one spot and comes out right around treeline on the Airline.
    Have fun & be safe
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