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08 December 2015

An Improvised Loop Hike: Middle and North Sugarloaf Mountain (Carroll, NH)

It's a bit of a stretch to say North and Middle Sugarloaf are in my "backyard". Nonetheless, these tiny mountains are only about 8-miles from my home in Bethlehem, NH.  And being so close, it's often convenient to go there for some "playtime".

Recently, I spent about 3-hours playing around there by doing an improvised 4-mile loop that included some bushwhacking, as well as on-trail travel.  In the grand scheme of things, it was a rather meaningless adventure since it's not as though I discovered anything of great significance, such as the Northwest Passage.  But yet, it was still great fun!  I take pleasure in hiking where I've never hiked before, and/or hiking to familiar destinations via unfamiliar routes.

My improvised loop entailed hiking a segment of snowmobile trail, followed by a bushwhack to Middle Sugarloaf (2,539 ft).  From there I picked up the Sugarloaf Trail which I followed to North Sugarloaf (2,310 ft).  And finally, to complete the loop, I hiked the Baby Twins Trail back to my starting point.  It should be noted that the Baby Twins Trail was decommissioned as an official hiking trail in the early 1970s, but it's still occasionally used, primarily by locals.

To get a general idea of the route that was followed for this 4-mile loop, please take a look at the Google Earth image shown below.
Google Earth image showing general idea of the 4-mile loop (CLICK/TAP TO ENLARGE)
For those readers who might be interested in details about the geology and history of the Sugarloaf mountains, click HERE for a wealth of information put together by Steve Smith.

And, for those readers who might have an interest in getting a general idea of what was seen during my adventure, presented below are a few snapshots.
There were open woods for the entire way when bushwhacking between the snowmobile trail and Middle Sugarloaf.
This was the view that was seen upon reaching the bottom of the bare rock on the west-facing slope of Middle Sugarloaf.
View of Presidential range as seen from the "edge of a ledge" before making final ascent to top of Middle Sugarloaf

To be fair to the third member of the "Sugarloaf family", mention should also be made of trail-less South Sugarloaf (3,024 ft).  In the above photo (taken from Middle Sugarloaf), South Sugarloaf is seen in the foreground (just right of center) with a portion of Mt. Hale looming directly behind it.
Looking westward from Middle Sugarloaf, there were low-lying clouds (undercast) in the valleys, which provided the familiar illusion of a large body of water off in the distance.
Shown here is the Sugarloaf Trail ladder which is located on the north side of Middle Sugarloaf.
A segment of the Sugarloaf Trail between Middle and North Sugarloaf
View of the Presidential Range from North Sugarloaf
To sum it up, I'm fortunate and grateful for having a "playground" like the Sugarloaf mountains located so close to my home.  Many small, but fun, adventures have been enjoyed there over the past years.  And perhaps it should be noted that although this trek was limited to Middle and North Sugarloaf, on prior occasions I've bushwhacked to trail-less South Sugarloaf (click HERE for a report).


Ken MacGray said...

Great photos and a nice adventure! The Baby Twins Trail has been on my to-do list for quite some time now. I'll get to it eventually! I also need to keep the Sugarloaves in mind for a winter hike, they seem like a good destination for that time of year (even with the road walk).

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Ken . . . your faithful following of my blog is most appreciated!

You have my total agreement about North and Middle Sugarloaf being a good wintertime destination, even though it does entail a walk along Zealand Road to reach the trailhead. But actually, I don’t find the road walk to that trailhead to be troublesome, but can’t say the same for continuing significantly further down the road to the Hale Brook or Zealand Trail. :-)

Just as an “FYI”, in case you might be interested, I just added a link at the very end of this report about a trek that was done a few years ago to trail-less South Sugarloaf.

Thanks again for reading my blog, and for taking time to post your comments.


ab said...

Great post as always. I was unaware of the Baby Twins Trail. Something to add to my backlog of hikes to do. Have a great day!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Chance!

And regarding your comment about a “backlog of hikes”, you would likely agree that there is never, ever a lack of places to explore in the New England mountains (not to mention New York’s Adirondacks and Catskills)! So, it’s little wonder that folks like us have a backlog. :-)


Steve K. said...

Thanks, John. I'm inclined to try the Sugarloaves by snowshoe this winter as well.

1HappyHiker said...

SteveK . . . if the weather cooperates, this hike is sure to please.

Thanks for posting your comments!


One Day in America said...

This looks and sounds like a great place to explore, and I would say that only 8 miles away definitely constitutes your "backyard". I love the rocky ledges and outcrops on this trail, and trail ladders are always fun! (Although maybe not when snow-covered.) As you replied to one of your commenters: "There is never a lack of places to explore in the New England mountains." So true—thanks for highlighting all these places for your readers, John!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks so much for your comments, Rita!

I feel fortunate to live in Bethlehem where the White Mountain National Forest is almost literally in my “backyard”.

Also, it’s delightful to live in a small New England village with such an interesting history. By the mid 1870s, Bethlehem had evolved into a booming tourist town. Seven trains arrived daily, bringing guests from Boston, New York, and points beyond. There were over 30 resort hotels to accommodate tourists who were eager to experience the scenic beauty and breathe the clean mountain air. Many wealthy families built summer "cottages" of grandiose proportions. However, when the popularity of the automobile took hold in the early 1900s, tourists no longer had to limit their travels to the confines of railroad tracks. And so, they were “liberated” to explore new destinations. As a result, the tourism industry in Bethlehem suffered greatly. The grand hotels have all disappeared, but several of the “cottages” remain - some as private homes, and other as inns or B&B's.


One Day in America said...

Bethlehem seems like the perfect New England town. Sounds like it would be a wonderful place to retire to!

Anonymous said...

I like the photos of the ledges on Middle Sugarloaf. Is summit access by way of the ledges? I'm wondering if Hillsound microspikes are enough for this peak. - Hiker Steve

1HappyHiker said...

The top most ledge near the summit of Middle Sugarloaf is accessed via a ladder. When conditions are icy, Hillsound microspikes should be sufficient. However, if there is deep snow, you would be advised to use snowshoes for your approach route to this mountain.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to ask any follow-up questions you might have.