I’d read that Zealand Road had opened up, so last Friday I made the ride down to Carroll, New Hampshire to check out the Sugarloaf Trail. It looked like a great day to catch some sun and views.
The parking lot had a few cars already there when I arrived late Friday morning. I saw signs coming in that this was a fee area, so I put the National Park Senior Pass on the dash and hoped for the best before starting off up the trail.
After checking out the signboard, I crossed the bridge over the Ammonoosuc River and then immediately turned right onto the trail. The trail followed along the river for a couple hundred yards before heading left towards the mountains.
The Sugarloaf Trail is not very long. It heads up the hill to a col between the peaks where it branches right and left towards North and Middle Sugarloaf, respectively. The first portion of the trail was pretty flat, and featured some very impressive large rocks.
Not long after the big boulders the incline increased. Roots, rocks and stone stairways were the path upwards, and after about a half mile I reached the junction.
Middle Sugarloaf was my first stop. It is the taller of the two peaks at just over 2500 feet and offers the better views of the two. The first half of the trail to Middle was flat, and then it became steep as I closed in on the summit. There were a couple scrambly bits, but overall nothing too challenging.
After climbing the conveniently placed staircase, I came upon a short stretch leading out to the summit.
The summit of Middle Sugarloaf is very open, with clear views almost around the compass. There are a few trees and bushes here and there, but predominantly it’s open rock face. The only views occluded are the ones due north.
Here are a couple photos from the top of Middle Sugarloaf, followed by a two videos.
The trip to the top was barely a mile, but steep enough to break a sweat. I hung around the summit for a while, enjoying the views and a sandwich packed along for lunch. It was very bright, and warm enough to be comfortable. The wind was light.
Eventually I saddled up and began retracing my steps back to the trail junction, where I planned to head over and see what North Sugarloaf had to offer. It did not take long to cover that half mile back to the junction, and I continued on past the sign towards the other hilltop. It wasn’t long before I could see it on the right side of the trail.
The trail goes down before heading up again, as they often do between peaks. This spur to North Sugarloaf was very short, perhaps a quarter mile, and it was a quick shot up to the summit after descending a little bit.
The views from the top of North Sugarloaf aren’t as expansive as those from Middle, but they are good. Here are a few photos, including one showing the forested northern side of Middle Sugarloaf.
I headed back down the trail after seeing what could be seen. On the way I saw this little fellow- the first snake seen this year. It was a nice sized garter, perhaps 18” long. He was basking in a patch of sunlight.
I logged just over 4 miles in total for this hike, and maybe 1300 feet or so in elevation. Regardless, it was a good walk to take so soon after Kearsarge North, and the views from the top were great.
My hiking season will be easing up a little now, as it’s time to start getting everything planted in the garden. That’s going to occupy most of the next week or so. But there will be more. I’ve got some fairly ambitious plans for this summer.
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