Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sugarloafs - 2000 footers with Outstanding Views

View from Middle Sugarloaf Mountain, NH
I told my friend to pick out a hike that had great views, but that my 4 month-old puppy, Summit, could handle.  Her suggestion was a hidden gem - an under four mile hike with two peaks, amazing views, and lazy rivers.  This is a great hike for everyone from an experienced hiker to a family with small kids.  It was the perfect way to start summer.

Here is how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure:  Middle and North Sugarloaf Mountains, Twin Mountain, NH
Trailhead sign to Sugarloaf Mountains

Getting there:  The trailhead is located on Zealand Road (on the South Side of Route 302).  I took 93 North from Southern New Hampshire, took exit 35 to Route 3 North, and merged onto 302 East.  About 2 miles after the Rt 3/302 junction, turn right onto Zealand Road (large sign for Zealand campground).  Drive past the Sugarloaf campground entrances and park at the trailhead (sign). If you drive over the bridge, you've gone too far.

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead (but are at nearby campground).  There is a $3 per day cost to park at the trailhead.

Rock steps on trail.
Trail:  We took the Sugarloaf trail from the parking lot.  Early on, the trail walked near the river and then began a moderate ascent to the junction for both peaks.  Most of this portion of the trail is dirt and roots.  Although ascending, the terrain is fairly easy.  The last 0.2 miles gets steeper- with some rocky steps built into the trail.  After 0.7 miles, we reached a junction.  We turned left and took the 0.5 mile trail up the last 300 feet to the summit of Middle Sugarloaf (2539 feet).  This section had one section with a stair case - easy for adults, but could be challenging for small children (or in my case- puppies). 

Middle Sugarloaf had amazing 200° views of the Presedential Ridge and foothills.  We enjoyed laying out on the granite slab and soaking up the sun while enjoying our snacks and water.

From Middle Sugarloaf, we descended the 0.5 miles to the junction and continued straight to summit North Sugarloaf.  From the junction, this portion travels 0.4 miles up 200 feet to the summit of the north peak (2310 ft).  This had another awesome view and plenty of room to lounge in the sun.

We descended the way we came in - returning to the junction and hiking down the Sugarloaf Trail.  We stopped for a cool dip in the river before returning to our cars.
River near trailhead

Difficulty:  This is an easy to moderate trail hike for the White Mountain region.  It was a perfect start to my summer hiking season (I might have gotten a little out of shape), and it was easy for my puppy, Summit, to handle (with the exception of the stairs).  I recommend this for any hiker looking for great views at a low cost. 

Distance:  Approximately 3.2 miles round trip - longer if you leave from the campgrounds.

  • Remember to bring $3 for parking at the trailhead.
  • There is no cell service at the trailhead. If you are meeting someone there, make sure they are aware that the trailhead is AFTER the Sugarloaf Campgrounds.
  • This is a perfect hike for a busy summer weekend when all the better known trails are crowded.  You won't have to fight for a spot on the summit!
  • Bring plenty of water (at least 1 L per person), a warm/waterproof layer, AMC trail map, and First Aid Kit.
  • Enjoy a lunch/snack break on one of the summits.
Summit the dog on the summit

Sarah recommended the perfect hike to start our summer hiking season.  With great views, river soaks, and manageable terrain - don't forget to explore some of the smaller peaks in the White Mountains this season!

You might enjoy these other posts about family-friendly hikes in the White Mountains...

5 Best Family Hikes in the White Mountains
3 Great Spring Hikes in Northern New England
Kancamangus Cool Down

Please leave comments and questions below...

View from North Sugarloaf Mountain.