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28 December 2013

Loop Hike to Middle and North Sugarloaf Mountains

Recently, my friend Marty and I did a loop hike of about 6 miles to Middle and North Sugarloaf mountains which are located in the Zealand area of northern New Hampshire.

Our loop began and ended at the parking lot for the Twin Mountain Recreation Area on Lake Road in the town of Twin Mountain.  This hike incorporated the following corridors: a segment of the old Glacial Ridge Road (click HERE for a history of that roadway); a snowmobile trail; a portion of the Trestle Trail; entire length of the Sugarloaf Trail; and the remnants of a long ago abandoned trail that was named the Baby Twins Trail.  At the end of this report is a map which shows our approximate route.

Our actual hiking time to complete the entire loop was about 4.5 hours, at a relatively leisurely pace.  The slowest part of our trek was the ascent/descent of Middle Sugarloaf where there was the usual ice buildup that occurs at this location each year during cold weather conditions.  Microspikes were sufficient to provide the traction we needed to negotiate this slippery segment of trail.

Shown below are a few snapshots taken during our hike.
Ammonooscuc River as viewed from the old Glacial Ridge Road
Spot where Trestle Trail bridge once spanned Zealand River until it washed out in 2005.
(A portion of wooden abutment is seen at top right.)
Marty hiking up the Sugarloaf Trail
Middle Sugarloaf vista showing a portion of Zealand Valley with Mt. Tom and Mt. Field prominent on horizon
North Sugarloaf vista looking in direction where the Presidential Mountain Range would be visible under better viewing conditions.
(Mt. Deception is the prominent peak at top center of photo.)
Looking toward North Twin and Peak-Above-the-Nubble, as evening approaches
Presented below is the map that I mentioned at the beginning of this report.  The faint gray arrows show our direction of travel and the approximate route we followed.  This is a vintage topographic map which might be useful in helping you get a better idea about the location of our hike.  However, it's an unsuitable tool for precise navigation in the field.

Also, when reviewing this map, please note that I've highlighted a segment of the Glacial Ridge Road that extends well beyond the segment that we actually hiked.  I thought perhaps some readers might be interested in seeing the portion of the current-day Flat Iron X-C trail that utilizes a segment of the old Glacial Ridge Road.
Vintage topographic map with faint gray arrows showing our direction of travel and approximate route we followed (click to enlarge)
To sum it up, this was a very enjoyable early Winter hike.  And since it was so early in the Winter season, there was insufficient snow for snowmobilers to be out on their trail.  Therefore, the segment of snowmobile trail that we incorporated into our loop hike was delightfully free of noise and fumes!

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