Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Mt. Madison (attempt), NH
Trails: Hayes Copp Ski Trail, Daniel Webster-Scout Trail
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Monday, February 20, 2023
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: We followed the White Mountain Guide's suggestion for winter, to park near the junction of Pinkham B and Campground Rds; Pinkham B Rd. is plowed and open from Rt. 16 at least to there. 
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Snow - Packed Powder/Loose Granular, Snow - Unpacked Powder, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Snow - Drifts, Snow - Wet/Sticky, Snow/Ice - Postholes 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Snowshoes, Traction, Ice Axe 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: More than a dozen small brooks, but each required just 1-2 hops to get over. 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: One large tree with branches fell along the Daniel Webster-Scout trail about halfway up and is causing a herd path around it. A few other blowdowns crossing the trail are easy to step over or under. Many small evergreens have branches jutting into the trail that one must push aside. It might be nice to add signage at the intersection of the Hayes Copp Ski Trail and Daniel Webster-Scout Trail, given that this is where one must turn onto the Daniel Webster-Scout Trail during the Dolly Copp Campground renovation. 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes:  
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: We lost an orange plastic cap (for the spike of an ice axe) somewhere on Daniel Webster-Scout Trail below treeline. Email me if you find it. 
Comments: According to the bottom 0.2 miles of Daniel Webster-Scout Trail are closed because of construction at the Dolly Copp Campground, but the trail beyond that is open and can be accessed via an official detour along Hayes Copp Ski Trail:

The trail is challenging in current conditions, as will be explained below. This approach to Mt. Madison is much more difficult than, say, Valley Way or Air Line. We saw no one at all during our entire hike.

The Hayes Copp Ski Trail is packed snow, so bare boots or microspikes are enough here; we saw snowmobile tracks along it, however, so one should watch out for those.

Anyone planning on hiking up the Daniel Webster-Scout Trail should wear snowshoes, for the time being, at least up to treeline. The trail is uneven, full of postholes all the way up, but the snow is soft enough that snowshoers can really make a difference in improving the trail, and have a better experience themselves. It seems that a group of hikers in microspikes went about a mile up the trail and gave up when the snow started getting deeper (about 2 feet deep), so this initial mile may be a little more packed, but even this section was soft when we returned in the late afternoon. Beyond that, there is a long section of the trail that is in the bed of a flowing brook, with many rocky sections and large puddles, forcing snowshoers to detour slightly onto the slopes on the sides, sometimes jumping over the brook to switch sides. Higher up, the trail goes along a narrow steep side slope, forcing snowshoes to tilt to the left or right (still better than postholing knee deep with each step).

When one reaches treeline there is a section of trail that is so steep that it is difficult to make progress in snowshoes. We switched to crampons and ice axes, and we really used the ice axes. Above that point the trail goes diagonally up a pile of large rocks, but the snow drifts made it hard to see where the gaps between the rocks were. Often we were stepping in a few inches of snow above solid ice or rock, but occasionally we would posthole in crampons a foot or two into a snow drift.

There are blue blazes on rocks and occasional small cairns on Daniel Webster-Scout Trail above treeline, which we could mostly follow, though while ascending diagonally, we missed the point just before the top where the trail bears left to go straight up the slope towards Osgood Junction, so we met Osgood Trail a few hundred feet north of Osgood Junction, and looking down Osgood Trail we saw the junction signpost. Because it was getting late and because the NWS forecast had 45-50 mph winds gusting to 65 mph for the summit of Mt. Madison, we skipped the 0.5 mile segment of Osgood Trail to the summit and went back down Daniel Webster-Scout Trail.  
Name: mathbp 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2023-02-21 
Link: https:// 
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