Monday, May 28, 2012

2012.05.28 Middle & North Sugarloaf - A Short Sweet Hike

This was day two of hiking on Memorial Day weekend.  With our having accomplished our first 4,000 footer of the season yesterday, today's hike was planned to be something shorter, not to mention easier, in order to save on our aching muscles and knees.  It was also our goal to beat much of the holiday weekend traffic on the way home - a goal we did not accomplish.

This two summit hike of Middle and North Sugarloaf (there is no trail to South Sugarloaf which is the tallest of the three summits) is only a 5.5 mile trip which we accomplished in about 4-hours.  The trail head is reached by using Zealand Road off Route 302.

After having completed this hike I am stunned that I have never heard of it before.  The effort/reward ratio makes this a real winner!

The hike begins on the Trestle Trail for about .2 miles and then turns left onto the Sugarloaf Trail.  On our descent later in the day we did continue on the Trestle Trail past this first intersection.  This less traveled (by far) portion of the trail follows the Zealand River for about a half mile eventually requiring a river crossing in order to return to the parking area.  Going in this direction adds nearly a mile to the trip and I think it was well worth it.  I understand that the bridge across the river was washed out years ago so, in high water the crossing is said to be next to impossible.  We were however able to cross today but it did take some effort.

Back to the Sugarloaf Trail.  Some 1 to 1 1/2 miles after turning onto this trail you reach a "T" intersection with Middle Sugarloaf to the left and North Sugarloaf to the right.  We decided to head towards Middle Sugarloaf first.

Once there we enjoyed nearly 270 degree open views from the ledges.  After taking it all in for a short time, we retraced our steps along the col and headed over to North Sugarloaf.  It too has amazing views and open ledges.  The trip between the two summits is is a total of 1.4 miles.

I would definitely recommend this short but rewarding hike to beginners or to those experienced hikers looking for a short trip.  Here are a few photos for your enjoyment:

Someone please tell me just how much force is created by a glacier such that it can move  boulders this size like tinker toys.  This boulder was HUGE!
A Pink Lady's Slipper - the state flower of NH.

Question: Was I thrilled to be here?
It may be difficult to tell but I really was happy.

This photo and the next few are from the summit of Middle Sugarloaf.

This shot is from North Sugarloaf.

This odd and lonely boulder was just sitting on the top of the ledge.  It seemed as though it could easily be toppled off the mountain.

An interesting formation of rock slabs one layered over the other.  I wondered how this was formed.

This photo is from North Sugarloaf looking back at Middle Sugarloaf.  If you look closely you can see an outcropping of ledge (right edge of knob) on which we had been standing earlier.

An oddly colored rock (photo does not do it justice).  It was almost a cream white.

A closeup of the rock in the last photo:  In this shot it would appear that there was a fossilized branch in the rock.

A lot of work has gone into the creation of steps on this trail.  This is but one example.

For those who follow our hikes; this is the mandatory vegetation shot.

Yet another huge boulder this time located on the Trestle Trail.

The Zealand River.

One last Pink Lady's Slipper.


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