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.
Sugarloaf Mountain Hike Comments
Date of Hike: Friday, May 31, 2019
The nice thing about this hike is that you can park at the top of the mountain a majority of your hike will be small elevation changes with some small areas of steep ascents. The the of the hike is mostly mild ridge-line style of hiking. From the west parking lot,took the green trail to the summit and then took the red to the blue train on the north side of the mountain - at that point you just follow the blue around. or the new hikers, a free trail map is available at the green trail head.
Date of Hike: Friday, May 24, 2019
First time hiking: first of all Iím out of shape and this probably was not the best hike to start back up. But I want to provide my pros and cons.
-Pros: good overall hike. I will definitely come back and bring friends. The views are beautiful. Although I saw people I never felt like it was over populated. But that could also be timing. For the most part the trails were well maintained clean and and the blazes were easily spotted. I never really hunted except for one time when they stopped showing blues blaze in the white/blue section for a few blazes.
-Cons or considerations: a lot of rock gardens on the trail. I rolled my ankle good about halfway in and was hurting pretty bad by time I finished. If you have weak ankles, roll easy, or just got out of a cast I would make sure you wrap and secure good or donít go. My boots are mid-high. I would recommend high boots. Using the map and blazes got a little confusing. It almost did not look to match. I was able to follow directions here online but a had a few people ask me directions. The views are the same. When I posted the pics I realized I canít distinguish which is which. I wish there were more creeks for my dog. That canít be controlled but realize if you want place of water for your dog to chill in (which my dog loves) it was not until last half of the trail and very minimal.
Overall it was a nice trail. I want to bring a group there but I donít think they will be ready for it yet. Need to start lighter.
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 4, 2017
This was our first hike of the fall, so we took it slowly. We started on the white trail in the East View parking lot until it merged with the Blue trail. We then stayed on the blue trail as described in the trail listing. It was a great day to hike, weather-wise. We started about 1130 in bright sunshine and finished just as the rain started. The trail map lists the Blue trail as 5 miles, but with starting at East View parking on the White trail made the loop 6.2 miles (according to my GPS).
Date of Hike: Sunday, July 30, 2017
Beautiful day for a hike, especially for late July in this area. Did the Blue trail all the way around, ascended the peak on the Red trail and came down the Orange trail. One especially rare thing to occur is there was a timber rattlesnake hanging around the White Rocks overlook. These are extremely rare to find in Montgomery County. He wasn't bothering anyone, but of all places for him to be, the overlook (where a lot of people go to get great views of Frederick County) was not the best place for him to be. Be aware of venomous snakes when hiking!
Date of Hike: Saturday, February 11, 2017
Solid hike. Got started on the trail at about 9:45, and it was mostly quiet (probably because its winter). The absolute hardest part of the entire hike is the first 10 minutes, up from East view parking. After that, there is no scramble, nothing too steep. So if you make it up the yellow hill, you're fine - also worth mentioning, the way down on the West View isnt anything like the way up on East view.
Trail started to get more crowded later in the day, and the views are amazing, but the trail is well maintained and marked.
By:Giker (Girl Hiker)
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 2, 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
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
Date of Hike: Sunday, September 6, 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.
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.
Date of Hike: Friday, July 3, 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!