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Great Hikes: North and Middle Sugarloaf

Mt Deception and the snow-capped Presidential Mountain Range
Mt Deception and the snow-capped Presidential Mountain Range

North and Middle Sugarloaf are two small mountains located just outside Twin Mountain, NH that provide outstanding views of the Twin, Rosebrook, and Presidential Mountain Ranges and only require a moderate 3.4 mile round trip walk to reach. While both peaks have views, Middle Sugarloaf (2539′) is on the 52 with a View peak list and has a huge open summit with 270 degrees of open ledge. Mt Washington is easy to see from its open ledges, as well as Mt Jefferson, Mt Deception, Mt Hale, Mt Rosebrook, North Twin, and the oddly named Peak Above the Nubble.

Taking in the view from open ledges on Middle Sugarloaf Mountain
Taking in the view from open ledges on Middle Sugarloaf Mountain

North and Middle Sugarloaf are adjacent to one another at the end of the Sugarloaf Trail which leaves from a trailhead parking lot off Zealand Road This road is closed in winter but the Sugarloaf Trailhead is a just short one mile walk from Rt 302 and the trail is usually broken out by snowshoes.

Sugarloaf Trail
Sugarloaf Trail

The Sugarloaf Trail and the Trestle Trail coincide for the first 0.2 miles, before the Sugarloaf Trail splits off and heads south, climbing moderately past several huge boulders. Called glacial erratics, these boulders were dragged here by the glaciers that formed the White Mountains we see today.

House-sized glacial erratic on the Sugarloaf Trail
House-sized glacial erratic on the Sugarloaf Trail

Once past the boulders, the trail begin to climb to the col between the North and Middle peaks, before coming to a trail junction where you can go north to Middle Sugarloaf or south to North Sugarloaf. A col, if you are wondering, is the lowest point on a mountain ridge between two peaks.

Col between North and Middle Sugarloaf
Col between North and Middle Sugarloaf

If you head to Middle Sugarloaf, the trail continues to climb until you come to a ladder, just below the open summit.

Ladder below the summit of Middle Sugarloaf
Ladder below the summit of Middle Sugarloaf

The summit is open ledge with several steep drops along the edge, so be sure to hang onto your kids and pets. The summit area is quite large however, and you should be able to spread out even if there are already people at the top. The rocky knob of North Sugarloaf is easily visible from Middle Sugarloaf.

North Sugarloaf Mountain, seen from Middle Sugarloaf
North Sugarloaf Mountain, seen from Middle Sugarloaf

Retrace your steps to the col to hike toward North Sugarloaf. The trail to the summit loops around to the left of the peak and may be hard to follow when the trail is covered with leaves in the autumn. While the North peaks does have a view, it’s nowhere are grand as the one on Middle Sugarloaf, but you’d be remiss to skip this short climb.

The Rosebrook Range (Bretton Woods) and Mt Tom from North Sugarloaf
The Rosebrook Range (Bretton Woods) and Mt Tom from North Sugarloaf

About the name “Sugarloaf”

There are over a dozen mountains in New England named “Sugarloaf” and it’s a very popular mountain name throughout the world. The name refers to the cone shape of sugar, called sugar loaves,  which is how one bought sugar before it was available in granulated form.

Conical sugar loaf moulds
Conical sugar-loaf moulds

Both North and Middle Sugarloaf have this conical shape with steep sides, hence the name Sugarloaf. You learn something new everyday on SectionHiker.com!

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6 comments

  1. I agree, this is a terrific short hike. Tremendous reward for modest effort. It’s also a good experience for less capable hikers who want some adventure none the less. I did nit last summer with my partner who isn’t as energetic as I am. We had a great time. I’m eager to go back again. Is there not also a South peak as well, that is a bushwack? I’ve seen reference to it. Good post Philip.

  2. Is Zealand road still open? I checked the web for a status and couldn’t find one.

    • I generally call the Forest Service district office. What they told me last year about this time is when it snows they close the road, and the web page might not reflect that right away. It was snowing at the very moment I talked to the ranger last year. They were very helpful. As a side comment, I think the Forest Service does a great job with the limited resources and bureaucratic entanglements they are provided with.

  3. I did this hike yesterday, short hike but nice views on Middle Sugarloaf.

  4. My wife and I have hiked this before in the summer. What a treat it was eating the wild blueberries on the summit of Middle Sugarloaf.

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