Route: Swan Song / Gulf Song Loop (NH)

New Hampshire, US
28.3 mi
Vertical Gain
19,750 ft

Robert Rives posted the Swan Song 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!

Todd Nappi submitted the Gulf Song variation:

This route is a take on the Swan Song loop, but staying exclusively in the Great Gulf. It links as many of the trails as possible, climbing three major routes and summitting all 4 Northern Presidentials. AMC guidebook pegs it right around 30miles, 12.5k gain.

From Great Gulf Trailhead
Great Gulf Trail to summit of Mt Washington
Nelson Crag to Wamsutta, descend back into Great Gulf
Up Six Husbands to summit of Mt Jefferson
Across Gulfside to summit of Mt Adams
Down Buttress, descend back into Great Gulf
Great Gulf trail to Madison Gulf Trail
Madison Gulf to summit of Mt Madison
Descent via Osgood ridge to Madison Gulf trailhead

GPS Track


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I believe there is no female unsupported time on the gulf song loop? I am going for it tomorrow.