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Sugarloaf Mountain, MD


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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
6.8 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
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3.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,265 ft
Stronghold Incorporated
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e.g. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Enter Sugarloaf Mountain through the main gates. Park at the East View parking area, which is 3/4 of the way up Sugarloaf Mountain. You can also park at the West View parking area to take the easier Green Trail, instead of the Orange Trail. 39.2605, -77.3903
Note: The park opens at 8:00a.m.

Sugarloaf Mountain is the prominence visible in the piedmont as it rises out of the plains southeast of Frederick MD. The mountain and trails are maintained by Stronghold, Inc. a non-profit setup by Louise and Gordon Strong in 1946 to preserve the mountain so it could be enjoyed by everyone. The mountain has many wonderful hiking trails that can be combined to create many different loops. The hike we have here is a 6.8 mile variation of the blue Northern Peak Trail loop.

From the East View parking area, start the hike up the orange blazed trail as it steeply ascends the mountain for 0.3 miles and ends at the red blazed trail (if you don't want to make the hike up the steep orange blazed trail, park a the West View parking area and take the green trail to the summit, where it turns in to the red trail).

At the red trail intersection at the end of the orange trail turn left for 100 yards to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, and views to the south. Return down the red trail, passing the orange trail you ascended, for 0.3 miles where it ends at the intersection of the blue Northern Peak Trail and McCormack Overlook.

From this point turn right and follow the blue trail. The blue trail will meet the white blazed trail in 0.1 mile where it turns left and becomes the blue/white trail. In 0.1 miles the white trail turns left, and the blue right. Turn right continuing to follow the blue blazed trail. The Stronghold, Inc. trail map is also marked with location signage. The marker on the blue trail will be 'B2', use these to help navigate the loop.

The next intersection will be with the yellow and purple trails. Remain on the blue trail towards White Rocks. 1.2 miles from this intersection arrive at White Rocks. There are 2 overlooks here.

Continue on the blue blazed loop as it descends the mountain and turns left on a mountain road in another 0.8 miles, then makes a quick right, and turns off the road to the left back into the forest. The blue trail will now climb for 0.9 miles to the junction of the white loop trail. Turn right on the blue/white trail for 0.4 mile at which point the white trail splits off to the right. Remain straight uphill for another 150 yards to the West View parking area.

From this point hike down the road for 150 yards and at the hairpin turn remain straight on the one-way section. Follow the road the remaining 0.3 miles to the hike start point and East View parking area.
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Hiker Reviews For The Sugarloaf Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: AA Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 09, 2014
First time. Loved it. Got there right after 8 on a moderately chilly day to beat the crowds. Was the first one up to the parking area. Took the Orange Trail up to the summit. It is moderately steep and would be a challenge for elderly people and for those who are really out of shape. Then I took the Green Trail (which I didn't like because it has stairs where it descends) to the Blue Trial. Then I took the Blue Trial north and then west all the way to White Rocks. Although it's not that big of a challenge for people in shape, it's pretty good exercise. I am a 6'2," 205-lb. athletically built 36-year-old man and I got a serious Charley horse later that day when I was napping. The view from White Rocks is pretty. It overlooks farmland to the west. Then I went south on the Blue Trial to the White Trial, which takes you east and then south back to the east parking lot. Including the Orange Trial, it's probably the best and most taxing route on this little mountain. It's about 7 miles in total. I completed it in 4.25 hours, which is not that fast but it was my first time and I was taking everything in and going off the trail some (including to urinate). The parking lot was full when I got back and I started seeing a lot of people when I got on the White and White/Blue Trails heading south toward the parking lot, so be sure to get there early. Great time and plan to do it again one day.

By: Amy Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Not open when it snows.

By: Marc Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 23, 2013
This is a very nice and quiet hike around a couple of peaks near Sugarloaf. I did the blue blaze, which is the peaks hike. It's not terribly challenging, though there are a fair number of uphill sections but they are relatively short and not too strenuous. Takes about 2 hours at a leisurely pace.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 12, 2013
I took my dogs on this hike and followed the instructions exactly. They are very accurate, but I would add one thing. The part of the hike that ends up at White Rocks, well the trail actually passes by a big pile of white rocks. The instructions said there are two overlooks there, and there weren't, so I assumed I hadn't gotten there yet. But it was confusing for a moment. There is a very steep incline early on to get your heart pumping, but after that it's not particularly strenuous, especially for a hike of almost seven miles. Anyway the day I went was pleasantly warm for January but very foggy all day, so there were no views at all. I would like to return with clearer skies. I arrived at the east parking lot at 8:50 on a Saturday, I think it opened at 8. I was the second car in the parking lot and saw about six people in the first five miles of the hike. Then as I got close to the end of the loop there were many, many people on the trail, and when I got to the parking lot areas I was surprised to see maybe a hundred cars or more. It's an odd thing, so many 'outdoorsy' people who you can completely avoid by just getting an early start. If I had gotten there when the gate opened, as I will next time, I would have avoided a lot of trail traffic. Better yet, a weekday might be the way to go here. One other note, leashes are required for dogs and I only encountered one dog owner who did not have their dog on a leash. Everyone else was courteous and compliant with the leash rule, something I don't always see on the trails. If you bring your dog, pack plenty of water, there's only one stream on the trail and it's toward the end of the loop as this site describes it.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 12, 2012
My sister and I went out to Sugarloaf for a short and quick hike. We started at the East View parking area and took the Orange Trail up to the summit. The Orange Trail is definitely one of the most direct paths to the summit, so it was a little steep and somewhat of a rock scramble, but it was fun. The views from the summit were nice and the day was gorgeous! We did a loop back to the parking lot via the Red, Blue, and White Trails, which provided an enjoyable descent. I look forward to going back to try out some of the other trails and see the views from White Rocks. Overall, it was a great hike!

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