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29 April 2013

South Sugarloaf: The Neglected Member of the Sugarloaf Family

At one time or another, probably many readers have hiked the trails to North and Middle Sugarloaf mountains located near Twin Mountain, NH.  Both of these little mountains offer a "big bang for the buck" in terms of views.  Meanwhile, the nearby mountain known as South Sugarloaf is sort of the neglected member of the "Sugarloaf family".  It doesn't get nearly as many visitors since it is trail-less. A bushwhack is required to reach its summit.

On 28-Apr-2013, I bushwhacked to South Sugarloaf.  It was my third time for doing so.  For my previous visits, two different launch points off the Zealand Road were used to reach this mountain.   For this recent visit, my bushwhack was launched from the snowmobile trail that runs on the east side of Tuttle Brook and goes for a considerable distance up the Tuttle Brook drainage in the direction of South Sugarloaf.  In this report, I'll refer to this as the "Tuttle Brook route".

Shown below is a photo of the three Sugarloaf mountains as viewed from the intersection of Rt. 3 and Rt. 302.  The yellow arrow provides a general idea of the route taken for my bushwhack.
Sugarloaf mountains viewed from intersection of Rt. 3 and Rt. 302
The "Tuttle Brook route", is the best of the three routes I've used to access South Sugarloaf.  As to why I've waited until now to use this corridor, perhaps I could rationalize that I was saving the best for last!  But in actuality, in the past when I've considered using this route,  the conditions were unsuitable for my tastes.  Either it was during the summer season when the snowmobile trails are filled with weeds/briars and blood-sucking ticks, or it was during snowmobile season, etc.   So, in my opinion, late spring, and mid autumn are the prime times to use snowmobile trails as hiking trails.

Following my weed-free, and tick-free,  trek along the snowmobile trails, it was eventually time to head off into the woods for the bushwhack portion of my journey to the summit of South Sugarloaf.  The vast majority of this off-trail portion was spent hiking through open woods such as shown in the next photo.
Open woods bushwhacking to South Sugarloaf
Most of the bushwhack was snow-free.  However, I did run into some lingering snow in the sag between South Sugarloaf and the massive ridgeline on the north side of Mt. Hale.  And, I also encountered a huge ice bulge which was easy enough to work around (next photo).
Ice bulge on the side of South Sugarloaf
On each of my visits to South Sugarloaf, I've been amazed at the orange/tan granular material on the summit area of this mountain. Geology (among many other areas) isn't one of my strong suits. However, I think this material is what is sometimes referred to as "rotten granite"?  Regardless, you can see some examples of this brightly colored material in the photo collage that is shown below. 
Examples of orange/tan colors atop South Sugarloaf
Among the many grand vistas from South Sugarloaf is the one looking across the Zealand Valley at Mts. Tom, Field, and Willey (next photo).
Mts. Tom, Field, Willey (right of center on horizon) as viewed from South Sugarloaf
However, the most impressive vista from South Sugarloaf is looking eastward toward the Presidential Range.
View of Presidential Range from South Sugarloaf
Another View of Presidential Range from South Sugarloaf
Okay . . . I spent far too much time basking in the warm sunshine on South Sugarloaf.  And as a result, I didn't have time to visit a ledge that I'd visited once before.  It's located at an elevation of about 3,360 ft  on a ridgeline at the north end of Mt. Hale.  As the crow flies,  it's only about 0.3 mile from where I was sitting.  It's a very worthy destination, and in retrospect, I wish I'd allowed time for a repeat visit.  The next photo shows this ledge as viewed from South Sugarloaf.
Ledge located on ridgeline at north end of Mt. Hale
From this ledge,  you can see all three of the Sugarloaf mountains, all lined up in a row.  First in line, is the orange/tan summit of South Sugarloaf, followed by Middle Sugarloaf with its massive south-facing cliff clearly visible.  And directly behind Middle Sugarloaf, you can see bits of the ledges atop North Sugarloaf.
South, Middle and North Sugarloaf viewed from ledge on ridge at north end of Mt Hale
To sum it up, this was my third visit to South Sugarloaf.  A different route was used for each of these bushwhack adventures.  All three routes have their good points, but my preference is for the "Tuttle Brook route".  As frequent readers of my Blog know, I'm keen on visiting new places, or familiar places via new routes.  Since I've now been to South Sugarloaf three times via three different routes, it might be quite a while before I make a return visit.  But who knows?  In mid Autumn, I might be up for a return visit. :-)


JustJoe said...

Awesome John. I never gave South Sugerloaf a second thought. Last summer my other half said if this is Middle and that's North, is there a south? I told it's that trail-less wooded bump over there. From where we were and the road, you really can't see that wonderful open summit. It actually looks like it has better views than at least North. Never noticed in G.E. either.

Fantastic. Thanks for sharing,

1HappyHiker said...

Hey Joe . . . glad you liked the report, and thank you for your comments.

Unless you’re looking directly down on South Sugarloaf (like from that ledge mentioned in my report), it does indeed appear to be merely an uninteresting wooded bump on the landscape. Before bushwhacking to South Sugarloaf for the first time, I’d been told there were views. However, I was unprepared for the truly remarkable vistas from that location.

As I said in my report, I now prefer the “Tuttle Brook route” for accessing this mountain. However, approaching from the east via Zealand Road has its merits. If you pick your route carefully, you can ascend via a ridge that has some nice ledges with views. It could almost be considered as a destination on its own right!

I’ll look forward to a report from you about your visit to South Sugarloaf! :-)


Summerset said...

Interesting. I've never been to either of Sugarloaves with trails, let alone this one. It makes sense to have a South Sugarloaf, though, and is kind of nice that it doesn't have a trail or else there might be more traffic with that view! The Sugarloaves are on my list of places to visit, maybe now that we've finish the Belknaps, Cameron will want to work on 52WAV. He really, really, enjoyed hiking "brand new" trail.

Steve Smith said...

Very cool report, John. Though a friend and I maintained the Sugarloaf Trail for many years, I only once made it over to South, and then up the NE ridge of Hale. Your great photos may inspire a return visit - forgot how nice it was up there!


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Summerset,

Hope you and Cameron make it to North and Middle Sugarloaf this summer. I think you’ll be very impressed with the views.
Also, it’s nearly certain that you’ll truly enjoy working on the 52WAV list. The vistas from the peaks on that list are very rewarding.

Thank you for posting your comments.


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Steve,

I recall you telling me about your remarkable bushwhack adventure up the NE ridge of Hale. However, I didn’t realize that it was done in conjunction with your visit to South Sugarloaf. But in thinking about it, that combination makes perfect sense.

Thanks for taking time to post your comments. I’m most appreciative!


One Day in America said...

John, it looks like you're having gorgeous weather for your spring hiking. And I completely agree that late spring and mid-autumn are about the best seasons for hiking anywhere—mountains or deserts.

I enjoyed your "feet shot" taken while basking in the sun. Hey, at this time of year we're allowed to spend a little extra time soaking up the warmth of the sun; it's been a long time coming!

Thanks for another nice report from the New Hampshire mountain-tops!

1HappyHiker said...

Rita, we’ve been having an unbelievable prolonged stretch of beautiful weather here in northern NH. It almost seems sinful NOT to get out there and hike, hike, hike! But I must admit to being a “sinner” on some of those beautiful days! Unfortunately, there are other aspects to everyday living that need to be tended to! :-)

Glad you enjoyed my report, and I thank you for taking time to post your comments!