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Sugarloaf Mountain, MD

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
6.8 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
3.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,265 ft
Stronghold Incorporated
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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: Giker (Girl Hiker) Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 02, 2016
So I am on a hiking spree- every weekend, I plan to do one tough and one easy hike. Sugarloaf was my easy one (although Signal Knob wasn't tough either), but through and through the hike was amazing. I parked in the east lot and started my hike at around 10 am. I have to say the initial ascent is really good- I absolutely enjoyed the steep and rocky climb! But it wasn't worth much (besides burning calories) as I went to the summit first- the morning was still drizzly/misty, so didn't get any views there. However I followed the blue blazed trail and the terrain was a good mix of ascents and descents but not tough at all.

I had trail almost to myself except for a few hikers here and there. When I reached the white rocks, the fog had lifted and I was blessed with really nice views of the valley, both on the north and the south ends. I spent about 15 minutes there, and luckily I had good cell signals so was able to facetime with my parents, and eat my banana :)

Coming back was also pretty easy and I was at the west parking lot at around 1:40 pm. I kept going down as instructed, to get to the east lot, but unfortunately missed a turn and kept going down and reached the exit of the mountain, only to realize my car was parked 1.5 miles uphill! Omg!!! So of course I had to climb back up and finished my hiking excursion, at about 2:15-ish. On the bright side, I burnt a few extra calories, and can indulge myself with a small sundae :D

By: Sean Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, April 27, 2016
I've been to Sugarloaf Mountain many times and had hiked most of this route. This time I did the official Hiking Upward version from start to finish. For some reason I have usually started from the west parking lot on the mountain, except for one time from the base parking near the offices. This was my first time approaching the summit from the east parking lot. Unlike the west side, this route to the top was part rock scramble. The orange blazes are faint but can be seen on the rock.

The blue route was pleasant as usual. Most of the trail is not too rocky for me. Just saw two other hikers with dogs, unleashed in violation of park regulations. A surprising amount of litter at the start -- I cleaned up a bit. It had been rainy but the trail was in good shape, with just one muddy spot I had to work to get around.

I was the only one in the east parking lot upon arriving at 8:30 am. There were seven cars when I returned. Looks like they're adding some parking -- I see land grading and tree cutting near the parking areas.

By: Golden enjoyed it Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 06, 2015
Was looking for a moderate hike and read up on this one. Was a really nice hike. The initial part, orange route, is the only difficult part. Couldn't have been longer than .1 miles. Please note someone prior said they would not take their dog because it would be way too difficult, however I disagree. We took our golden and he was fine. Granted he has hiked way harder hikes, but I think most dogs can find a route. I will note though he was very tired by the end as this is probably one of the longer hikes he has done. It also is easy to skip the orange and bypass it with the white or green routes. Overall really liked the hike, relaxing and some nice views. Took us about 3 hours and a nice mix of terrain. I did have to keep my phone out to look at this review to make sure I was taking the right routes, but all the trails are marked well. You just want to make sure you get back to the right parking area.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 11, 2015
With heavy rain in the forecast for the morning, I decided to can my plans to go to Shenandoah for the day.  However, things cleared up by mid morning so I decided to hit Sugarloaf as it was close by.  I ended up doing a modified route (took purple trail to White Rocks, then backtracked up to the northern summit just for the heck of it then used White trail to cross back over to the other side of Blue trail and back down Orange to the East View parking area - in my haste, I had missed the first summit in the morning), and was pleasantly surprised.  The trail was more difficult than I thought because of all the rocks, even though the elevation gain was slight.  Solitude was about a 1 or 2, the parking areas were packed but once you moved out towards White Rocks the crowds thinned out.  Overall, definitely worth a hike again because of the closeness to DC area.  Views are pretty cool.

By: TriniLan Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 03, 2015
Loved this hike! Didn't see any stinkbugs... yay! Considering that it rained just the day before, the trails weren't soggy at all, except for a few patches where you could easily sidestep the mud. Beautiful foliage and views. A bit crowded as expected on the Fourth of July holiday, but more solitude was found on the longer (Blue & White) trails. Wear a good pair of hiking shoes as the trails can get quite rocky and the probability of stubbing your toe is high.

Modified Route: Parked at the first parking lot by the entrance on Comus Road for a longer hike. Took the eastern White Trail to the Orange Trail, then the Red Trail to the Blue. Followed on to the Blue & White, and western White Trails back down the mountain to the car.

Time: 4.5 hours including breaks for food and tonnes of photos (total break time = approx. 1.25 hours).

Difficulty: This isn't an easy hike due to the length of the modified route and the changes in elevation. As a moderately fit person, I was definitely tired by the time I got back to the car, but I wasn't overly sore the next day. If you're not new to hiking, and you live in the DC metro area and want a scenic and invigorating hike, don't miss this one!

    View all 22 reviews for the Sugarloaf Mountain hike
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