After months of being closed to comply with the Maryland Governor’s order to shelter-at-home, Sugarloaf Mountain is open for hiking. It’s a manageable and beautiful hike even though there aren’t a lot of views to take in. In the fall and summer, climbers also use the rock faces of Sugarloaf.
For any hikes in Sugarloaf, once you get to the main parking lot make sure to go straight towards the gate. My GPS always gets confused and directs me to the gravel road, which is not where you want to be! Also note, the gates don’t open until 8AM and will close for inclement weather.
There are several trails to hike all varying in length and difficulty. I’ve definitely gotten lost on the trails here (not any catastrophic misadventures), so make sure to carry your map with you if you are combining trails. These days, I almost always hike the blue-blazed Mountain Loop and have managed to not lose the trail.
To get to this trail head to the last parking lot – there are several parking lots on the way but you’ll know when you get to the last parking lot. I hike the loop clockwise and start at the trail head adjacent to the green-blazed trail. The Mountain Loop intersects with several other trails but keep following the blue blaze until the end.
With about 1,500 feet of total elevation gain, the trail is a lot of short ups and downs. The White Rocks overlook provides the only viewpoint, which is about a mile before the end of the loop, and is a good place to stop for lunch and photos.
Because it’s easily accessible from D.C. and the surrounding suburbs, this is an extremely popular hike. To avoid large crowds during the pandemic, I hiked here late in the afternoon (2 PM) on a muggy and hot day. The trail was sparsely crowded and most people wore masks when in close proximity. Because the trail has an abundance of coverage from trees, I almost always stay relatively cool on my hikes. There aren’t any water sources, so make sure to bring plenty of water for and after the hike.
Hope you are able to get out and enjoy the beauty of Sugarloaf Mountain soon and once the pandemic is over perhaps even get a glass of wine at the Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard.