Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How Sweet It Is...In New Hampshire - The Sugarloafs

Jill calls me "Mr. Over Prepared". That's because I always carry way more items than I truly need for a day trip. I don't carry one compass, I carry two. I don't carry one map, I carry two. On the most beautiful day of the year with no chance of rain, I make sure I have our emergency ponchos. Along with having an abundance of equipment, I always make sure our hiking trips are well planned. I make sure I know how to get to the trailhead. I make sure I know what trails we're taking and what mileage each milestone is located. And I make sure I know what mountain I am climbing at least a week in advance so that I can get all of the things I just listed, squared away.

Well, in late August, I broke that last rule. Jill and I had plans on the 28th (a Saturday) but nothing to do on the 29th (a Sunday). I think it was the Friday before that one us brought up the idea of hiking on that Sunday. Since the Sugarloafs had been on our list since the previous summer, we decided that this would be a perfect day to tackle these peaks. The short notice for the hike certainly made me a bit uneasy, but what the hell, sometimes you just have to be wild and impulsive!!!

White Wood Aster

The Sugarloaf Trail was great. It climbs in the valley of the two peaks and really doesn't have any steep sections. The few moderate sections have great stone steps to help hikers up. Half way up the beginning of the trail, before the split, there is an amazing boulder, which is cleanly cut into two enormous pieces. You can't miss it if you hike this trail.

Giant Boulder Broken in Half on Trail

It was apparent that autumn had started in this region, as there were minimal wildflowers left. Other than some white wood aster and some different types of golden rod, I wasn't able to photograph any. Mushrooms and other fungi certainly kept me busy on the trail though and I was able to get some neat shots. Maybe the most evident clue that fall was in the air was that a few hobblebushes had turned red and I even found a lonely maple leaf that had fallen on the trail.

Lonely Maple Leaf on the Trail

At the split, we first turned left and headed up Middle Sugarloaf first, as it was the higher of the two peaks and supposedly awarded the best views. The trail up to the peak was pretty easy and had an easy to climb stair case just before breaking out into an enormous ledge. The bald ledge curled 270 degrees around the summit and offered incredible views from the northeast to the west. The views from this peak offered us a new perspective of New Hampshire's White Mountains and it was not disappointing.

Jill, Enjoying Middle Sugarloaf's Summit

Jill and I found a nice perch to setup camp and had a well deserved lunch. Other than one other group that came and went while we were on the summit, we were by ourselves. We had Middle Sugarloaf, on a beautiful, clear day, all to ourselves. It was amazing. We stayed on the summit for over an hour. We couldn't stop gazing at the Presidentials, with Mount Washington showing off its enormous profile to the east. To the south, we saw Mount Hale, South Twin and a bit of Mount Guyot for the first time. Even though we were enjoying the quiet summit, we knew we had one more peak to conquer that afternoon. So we took one last deep breath of Middle Sugarloaf air, and headed back down the trail to North Sugarloaf.

What I believe is South Twin

The trail up to the north peak was also easy and not very steep. At one point, just off the trail, we found a very long, deep crack in the earth. It ranged from one to two feet wide and was approximately ten feet deep, at its deepest section. We also had a butterfly follow us around. We took some time and tried to take some pictures of it. It really seemed to be as curious of us as we were of it.

View over the scarred summit of North Sugarloaf

North Sugarloaf also had a great summittoo, but I wouldn't say it is better than Middle Sugarloaf. It had many of the same views, but to the south, was restricted by Middle Sugarloaf's profile. At this point, Jill and I were pretty tired and hot (it was 90+ degrees that day) and decided to head back down. The hike back to the car was a breeze and very easy on the knees.

We Heart Mount Washington (Yes, that is MW, hard to see)

A closeup of the big guy!

I thought this was a great, impulsive hike for us. Without a doubt, we will be back to climb the Sugarloafs again. It was a short hike with amazing views and a beautiful summit. I would recommend it to anyone. The Sugarloafs are another reason why New Hampshire is the state out there!

Our companion butterfly who followed us up North Sugarloaf



  1. Karl,

    I just came upon your blog the other week while finally working on my bucket list of 'hiking up in NH and VT' and the Sugarloafs are one of the first hikes I plan to do. Love the pictures and the blog, has really inspired me to get off my duff and get out there.



  2. Jeff,

    That's great. I'm glad you like the blog and plan on hiking some of the Whites. Sugarloaf is certainly one of the best hikes up there. Great views for minimal effort. I hiked it over a month ago now, so there was no real foliage then. However, now would be a great time to hike it. I've heard from a few people that the Sugarloafs are their favorite autumn hike. I hope you have a great time! Keep us posted with what you're hiking. If you're on Facebook, you can follow us on www.facebook.com/LiveFreeAndHike as well.


  3. Just came across your site from NH.com. Thanks for taking the time to share your adventures. I have been doing some local and easy hikes with my children, but I can't wait until they can take on some more challenging ones.

  4. Hi Daniele,

    I'm glad you found the site and are finding it helpful. My wife and I started hiking last year and have done a lot of easy ones in the local area as well as up north. Only recently, have we really been trying the more challenging ones. If you ever want any good suggestions for easy hikes, drop me a line and maybe I can help point you to some great hikes...

    Thanks for visiting.