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View Full Version : Madison Gulf Trail vs. Adams Slide Trail



Raymond
08-12-2014, 05:21 PM
I climbed Madiison Gulf Trail last Friday and saw a few red paint blazes, which reminded me of the few photos I’ve seen of the long-discontinued Adams Slide Trail, which also still has some red blazes on it.

Which started me wondering why the latter trail was abandoned. Were there any deaths on it? Lack of use? It doesn’t seem particularly dangerous from the photographs I’ve seen. On the other hand, I didn’t take any pictures of the worst places on Madison Gulf Trail, so the lack of photographic evidence may not mean anything.

How do the two trails compare, those of you who have climbed both?

For that matter, what about the other trails that climb out of Great Gulf? This was my first time ever hiking in Great Gulf, so now that I’ve lost my virginity, so to speak, I’m eager to try another.

The ‘‘White Mountain Guide’’ says that Madison Gulf Trail is one of the most difficult in the White Mountains, but Steve Smith’s ‘‘Wandering Through the White Mountains’’ says that its greatest vertical rise is only 950 feet over .7 mile, while Castle Ravine Trail (other side of the ridge, I know, but it’s a White Mountain trail, too) rises 1300 feet in .7 mile. Six Husbands and Huntington Ravine trails both rise 1400 feet over .8 mile.

Maybe Madison Gulf Trail was called out for its difficulty because people who don’t know any better are more likely to take it than other trails, thinking they can get to the hut easily that way.

AlpineBee
08-12-2014, 06:26 PM
I've noticed those paint blazes on Madison Gulf and Adams Slide, too. They are the same, thick, red paint. I imagine the trail maintainers did a loop up one trail and down the other to mark the trails. Madison Gulf is rough. Difficulty can be subjective, but I feel that Madison Gulf Trail is easier than many others in the White. It is remote and rocky, so if you get hurt on that trail, rescue could be difficult.

I've read a few reasons why Adams Slide Trail was abandoned. I read that due to its steepness, it was difficult to maintain. I've also read that around the time the Great Gulf became wilderness in the 60s, the Forest Service wanted to reduce the number of trails in the area. The 1972 AMC guide is the last mention of the trail in a White Mountain Guide, to my knowledge, and only states that it was abandoned.

In my opinion, Adams Slide Trail is a lot easier than other trails in the White Mountains, but it is unsafe in the sense that it is unmaintained. I find it easier than Madison Gulf Trail. Adams Slide isn't very technical, but that may have been different back when it was a maintained trail. It might have been a lot like Owl's Head Path, so loose rocks would be a major problem. As it is today, compared to Adams Slide and Madison Gulf, North Slide on Tripyramid is far mor dangerous, as is Huntington Ravine Trail and the Great Gulf Headwall. Again though, difficulty can be subjective.

blacknblue
08-13-2014, 10:21 AM
The ‘‘White Mountain Guide’’ says that Madison Gulf Trail is one of the most difficult in the White Mountains, but Steve Smith’s ‘‘Wandering Through the White Mountains’’ says that its greatest vertical rise is only 950 feet over .7 mile, while Castle Ravine Trail (other side of the ridge, I know, but it’s a White Mountain trail, too) rises 1300 feet in .7 mile. Six Husbands and Huntington Ravine trails both rise 1400 feet over .8 mile.


FWIW, I found Madison Gulf to be a very fun, scenic, and enjoyable trail. It was steep, but never overwhelming, with only a few real tricky parts. If combined with Star Lake, it makes for quite a prolonged stretch of steep, scrambly hiking.

Huntington Ravine, on the other hand, has some slabby sections that can be daunting, and the exposure is much more considerable, and for a longer stretch. Six Husbands is steep, with quite a few ladders and scrambles. Longer legs and arms would be helpful! Castle Ravine wasn't as steep as the others, at least it didn't seem that way. The rocks were very loose, and the trail harder to follow, but the below-treeline approach was wonderful, and the main climb was not particularly difficult. Great Gulf Trail is the other with big numbers attached to it, but I think it's the 'easiest' of this handful of trails - never really daunting, just long and steady. Feels more like scrambling out West than the others.

DayTrip
08-13-2014, 10:36 AM
I didn't find the Madison Gulf Trail to be nearly as difficult as described in the AMC Guide. The Great Gulf, Castle Ravine and King Ravine headwalls are all steeper and more physically demanding in my opinion. None of these was what I would call difficult though, just very lengthy and relentless ascents. The difficulty factor for me on the Madison trail was how wet and slick the rocks were. I went on a very dry day after a rain free stretch and much of that headwall was still soaking wet which made "normal" scrambles much trickier. Lot of moss on rocks too.

Raymond
08-13-2014, 01:01 PM
The WMG says that the climb up the headwall on Madison Gulf Trail begins at Sylvan Cascade, but it felt like it began higher than that, at the base of the white rocks which led to the smooth slab. That was about 15 minutes above Sylvan Cascade. That would make the bulk of the vertical rise occurring over a shorter distance.

dailey7779
08-13-2014, 03:26 PM
For that matter, what about the other trails that climb out of Great Gulf? This was my first time ever hiking in Great Gulf, so now that I’ve lost my virginity, so to speak, I’m eager to try another.

A great hike to do is up the Six Husbands and down the Sphinx Trail. The Six husbands is steep and rugged, with ladders! (Click for a zoom in of the laders) (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MgIKHg5_LMM/U-liK0Pj8-I/AAAAAAAAgdw/y7dMTpP9u1M/s1600/King+Ravine+and+the+Ridge+of+the+Caps+and+Back+094 .JPG). Another great one is up the Great Gulf and down the Wamsutta Trail, great views heading up the headwall and descending the Wamsutta. There are beautiful cascades along the Great Gulf Trail past the Six Husbands / Wamsutta Trail Junction.

-Chris

Raymond
08-14-2014, 03:55 PM
Does that photo show a traverse along a ledge, with ladders at either end?

How is Sphinx Trail for descending? The book says slippery rocks in a stream, tedious, that kind of thing. But it’s probably better than Six Husbands, I assume.

dailey7779
08-14-2014, 04:30 PM
Yes, you nailed it, in the picture is the 'ledge' that you have to scramble/crawl up, it's right below the highest ladder in the photo.

Sphinx Trail is fine for descending. There is a quarter mile of the trail that travels in the brook which can be tedious, but even so, the trail is easier than the Six Husbands.

Raymond
08-14-2014, 06:01 PM
Thanks. I was looking at this on the map and in the book last night, forgetting that you had already suggested the loop. Looks like it would be around 15 miles.

sierra
08-17-2014, 03:23 PM
That ladder shot is very cool!