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Middle Sugarloaf Mtn, North Sugarloaf Mtn
November 23, 2008

Route: Zealand Rd, Sugarloaf Trail


Middle Sugarloaf - 2539 ft
North Sugarloaf - 2310 ft

Vertical Climb:

1559 ft


4.8 miles

Who Went:

Paul (solo)

I left home hoping to be able to drive up Zealand Rd to the Zealand Trailhead and hike a loop to Zealand Falls Hut and over Mt Hale via the Zealand, Lend-a-Hand, and Hale Brook Trails, followed by a mile walk back to the car on Zealand Rd.

As sometimes happens though, this plan did not work out. From Rt 302, Zealand Rd crosses a bridge, passes the small roadside Zealand Campground, and then climbs about 250 ft uphill around a couple of bends, not leveling out until it reaches Sugarloaf Campground I. A 4‑wheel drive vehicle would have made it through the few inches of slippery snow, but I only reached the first bend before losing traction. I tried three times, and then gave up.

I wasn't in the mood to walk all 3.5 miles and 600 ft uphill along the road to get to the Zealand Trail, so I parked in the hiker lot on Rt 302 and decided to climb the Sugarloaf Trail instead, which is only a mile up Zealand Rd.

The Sugarloaf Trailhead begins, along with the short, flat Trestle Trail, just after the second Sugarloaf Campground, right where Zealand Rd crosses the Zealand River and where the road's paved surface ends and the gravel begins. For a short distance, the trail follows the west bank of the river before it makes a sharp left and begins to climb away from it. Soon, it reaches a group of several huge boulders, two of which look like a single rock that split in two ages ago.

At the ridge between North and Middle Sugarloaf, the trail splits into two branches. I chose to climb the South branch to the slightly taller Middle Sugarloaf first. For a while, the trail wound through mostly level woods. Then it began to climb moderately via a couple of wide switchbacks up the steeper portion of the summit cone, finally ascending a ladder just before the last climb to the top over steep ledges.

It was hard to tell that I was so close to the top, but after climbing the ladder and following the trail around a short curve, I emerged out onto the small, but open windswept summit.

Sugarloaf Trailhead. The trail is about a mile in from Rt 302. Although Zealand Rd wasn't closed for the winter yet, I couldn't make it up the hill in my car, so I had to walk this extra distance.

Sugarloaf Trail and Trestle Trail sign. Both trails begin here. The Trestle Trail is just a short flat loop.

Zealand River. The Sugarloaf Trail follows the river for a short distance near Zealand Rd.

Huge boulders. I'm not real good with geology but this looks to me like one huge boulder that split in two a long time ago.

Trail split. From here, The left branch goes to Middle Sugarloaf, and the right to North Sugarloaf.

Middle Sugarloaf branch above the split. There was a couple of inches of fresh snow on the ground and trees from the night before.

Ladder. This ladder ascends some steep ledges just below the summit of Middle Sugarloaf.


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