Route: Swan Song Loop (NH)

New Hampshire, US

Robert Rives posted the route:

Hi all White Mountain running/speed hiking enthusiasts! I have a tasty new loop for us to chew on...

The idea here is simple: take an updated version of the little-known Swan's Traverse in the Presidential Range and add a return trip through Huntington Ravine and Madison Gulf (with the summit of Madison thrown in) to complete the hardest, most direct Randolph -> Pinkham Notch -> Randolph loop possible. Here is a breakdown of the route, trail by trail:

- Air Line, Short Line, King Ravine, Air Line to Adams summit
- Star Lake, Buttress, Six Husbands to Great Gulf Trail
- Great Gulf headwall to Washington summit
- Tuckerman Ravine trail to Hermit Lake
- Boott Spur Link to Boott Spur, then down to Pinkham
- Huntington Ravine Trail to Alpine Garden, take it to Auto Road
- Wamsutta Trail to Great Gulf, take it down to Madison Gulf Trail
- Madison Gulf Trail to hut
- Osgood Trail to Madison summit
- Watson Path down to Brookside, Brookside to Valley Way
- Valley Way back to start

I completed the Swan Song Loop on Saturday, July 26th in a very modest time of 13:30. I told myself not to run unless the running was easy, and that turned out to be a rare opportunity. I also had a couple of 20-minute socializing sessions at Pinkham and Madison Spring Hut while refueling. To say the least, this was the most gorgeous and humbling day I've had in the Whites. Five ravine headwalls; three Presidential summits; 31,000 feet of elevation change (15.5k up, 15.5k down); 30.1 miles. New "hardest day hike in the East"? Get out there and give us some more opinions!