Hike Report for Middle Sugarloaf

Middle Sugarloaf is located in New Hampshire, United States. It has an elevation of 763 meters above sea level. It is located at the following coordinates: (44.2517, -71.5176).
This hike report was written by Douglas Twitchell, about a hike on Tuesday, March 9, 2010.
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Directions to Trailhead

Follow 302 in New Hampshire north past Mount Washington. After passing by Washington 302 veers toward the west. Continue on until you reach Zealand Campground. In the wintertime, the interior is gated, so you have to park in the parking lot by the road and walk in. The Sugarloaf trail is on the right side of the road, and is marked.

On the drive up 302 in NH

Mt Washington, Rte. 302

Hike Report

Hiking Middle Sugarloaf in early March was harder work than I expected. I'd hiked it in late spring the previous year, and I knew it would be harder in the snow, but I didn't expect to find unpacked trail conditions.

It was clear, at the bottom, that several people had been hiking since the most recent snowstorm; we could see boot prints, spikes, and snowshoe tracks. But as we pushed higher and higher, those tracks disappeared; apparently the hikers had, one by one, given up on the mountain and turned back. By the time we got to the col between North Sugarloaf and Middle Sugarloaf, Nate and I were breaking trail.

It was hard work.

Near the summit there is a ladder built into the trail to help over the steepest part. When I hiked in early March, it was completely covered with snow. Here's a pic of the ladder two weeks later when I was back:

Ladder/Stairs on Middle Sugarloaf

But the hard work paid off at the summit; the fields of snow were completely unbroken - except in one place where a small woodland creature had walked across the edge of the field.

The views were spectacular; from the summit of Middle Sugarloaf you see not only the Presidential mountains, but also Mount Tom and Mount Field.

Looking south

Looking east toward Presidentials

The trek down the mountain was lots of fun; it was steep enough that we were actually doing "step-slide-step-slide" for much of the return, and we made very good time!

One thing that made this hike truly memorable was the unbroken fields of white and the almost holy sense of silence. I wrote the following poem upon returning home:

Sacred Silence
As Moses came before a burning bush
With trembling wonder and with feet unshod,
Amidst the solitude of nature's hush,
Approached the wild and holy throne of God,
So we, in equal wonder and delight
Upon remote and distant mountain shelf
Did stand before unbroken fields of white
Where none had trod but we, and God Himself.
O'erwhelmed before the holy silence there,
As I had never been in steepled halls,
I set aside each burden and each care,
In this, God's holy temple without walls.
And now at last I've come to understand
That God dwells not in buildings made by hand.


Near the summit of Middle Sugarloaf there is a steep place where a set of stairs/ladder is in place to help you over. However, if you are hiking in the winter, that may be completely snowed/iced over, making this section difficult.

This is not a long trail, but if it's winter and the trail isn't packed down, it's a tough hike.


Including the walk in from the road, this was about a 4-5 mile hike, with about 1000 feet elevation gain.


Images on this page are the property of Douglas Twitchell, and may not be used without permission of the owner.
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About the author
Most of my hiking happens in the North East region of the United States. I don't hike as much as I used to, now that we have a baby in the house, but I do love to get out and explore now and then! If I've provided incorrect info in any of my reports, please drop me a comment so I can fix it! (more...)
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