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Climbing Sugarloaf Mountain in the Nash Stream Forest

Sugarloaf Mountain Summit
Sugarloaf Mountain Summit

Sugarloaf Mountain (3701′) is a 52-with-a-view peak in the Nash Stream Forest, a multi-use conservation area in North New Hampshire, north of the White Mountain National Forest. If you ever get the chance to get up to the Nash Stream Forest, it’s a lot wilder and less developed than the Whites with great hiking, both on-trail and off.

I climbed this Sugarloaf during the first week of November, a clean-up trip of sorts, after attempting the peak on a Cohos Trail Section Hiking trip with some friends from the Appalachian Mountain Club. It was the last day of our backpacking trip and it started to rain heavily, so we bailed and called it a day, hiking down to our cars at the bottom of the mountain. That was a bit more than two years ago, in 2014. One of these days, I’ll finish the parts of the Cohos I still need to hike.

Decked out with blaze orange in the north country
Decked out with blaze orange in the north country

There are many mountains named Sugarloaf in New Hampshire, including Middle and North Sugarloaf, farther south in the Whites. The name refers to the conical shape of a sugarloaf, the bulk form that sugar used to come in before it became granulated and boxed in the form we buy it in today.

Hunting season was in full swing, so I was wearing a blaze orange hat. This being the north country, it’s quite common to meet hunters at the trailheads in the mornings and evenings, out to bag big game before winter arrives and the roads up north become impassable. It was chilly, so I was bundled up, wearing my trusty buff to cover my ears and lightly insulated boots.

The Sugarloaf Mountain Trail runs past a cabin, what people around these parts call camps, that has an improbable sign nailed to the outside advertising long distance phone calls for 25 cents a minute. I’m pretty sure that’s a joke.

Cabin at the base of the Sugarloaf Mountain Trail
Cabin at the base of the Sugarloaf Mountain Trail

Passing the cabin I headed up the trail, an old logging road by the looks of it, covered with a dense layer of old leaves. The trail climbs steeply, until about 3000 feet, where I hit the snow-line, the trail narrowed and got ledgey, and the spruce closed in around me. I hadn’t brought any traction on this hike, like microspikes, so I had to concentrate on my footwork as I climbed in order to not slip.

I came to a clearing, where the remains of the old fire warden’s cabin were located, since Sugarloaf once had a fire tower on top. There’s apparently a spring up here, although I only saw mud mixed with boggy ground, some old foundations, and an old sink. Not much left.

Had to search around at the top of the trail for a while to find the summit, but there it was, an open ledge and a glorious view. Except on this day, it was totally socked in with fog. That’s the way it goes sometimes. It is supposed to be a great view. Guess, I’ll have to try again some other time.

Total Distance: 4.2 miles with 2200′ of elevation gain.

For driving directions: See the White Mountain Guide.


Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Map

Recommended Guidebooks and Maps:

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  1. Nice post! Is this trail above the gate, i.e. closed in winter?


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