Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hiking the Sugarloafs

After one too many terrain park jumps with my skis this past week I was left with a bruised heel and sore ankle. So I was looking for a short hike with good views today. My hiking plan was the Sugarloaf Trail to Middle and North Sugarloafs off the Zealand Road.

 Sun through a thin overcast over the Presidentials

 Ammonoosuc River

 Zealand River


It was cold with a brisk wind when I arrived at the Zealand parking lot. I layered up and decided to carry my snowshoes just in case but had a feeling I would not be needing them. The popular Zealand Road is very hard-packed snow from the many hikers, snowshoers and skiers that use it.

Big Rock

I was not sure where the Sugarloaf trailhead was but easily found it on the other side of the bridge over the Zealand River. Once again I found a hard-packed trail and it was an easy walk along the river.

 Lots of these tracks seen today

As the trail started a slight climb I decided to put on the microspikes. The trail passes through a small area of large boulders. Beyond this there is a moderate climb to the trail junction that splits between the two Sugarloaf summits.

 Someone lost their feather

 A little help from a ladder

 Middle Sugarloaf summit in sight

I turned left and hiked south to Middle Sugarloaf. Just before reaching the summit there is a steep section with a wooden ladder. Appeared others before me were not using the ladder as there was a beaten path going up beside it. I used the snow-covered ladder.

The summit was in sight at the top of the ladder. There was a nice area of open ledges with spectacular views especially of the Presidentials. Soon after arriving I noticed the slight wind that had been blowing was now gone. The temperature actually felt mild and made it nice for capturing some photos.

 Wooden ladder going down

North Sugarloaf summit ledges

There was one more summit to climb today and I departed Middle Sugarloaf. Back at the trail junction I noticed fresh tracks and sure enough there were three hikers on the top of North Sugarloaf. We spoke briefly and they left for the other summit.

 Western view from North Sugarloaf

South view from North Sugarloaf

The broken trail had brought me to a small viewpoint but it did not appear to be the outlook I was looking for. Sure enough there was a wide trail through the woods that didn't seem to have had any hikers on it this winter.

 Middle Sugarloaf

I decided to break through this trail. After about a hundred yards of knee deep crusty snow I was rewarded with an area of open ledge and an unobstructed 180 degree view. This outlook had views similar to the Middle Sugarloaf ledges. I didn't stay long and beat down some more of the unbroken trail on the way back.

It was a quick descent to the Zealand Road and back out to the parking lot. My ankle held up well and gave me no problems. There was decent weather, good trail conditions and even the snowshoes got a free ride. This was the perfect hike that I was looking for today to a couple of summits that I had not been to before.

Panoramic view from Middle Sugarloaf

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. I've been thinking about hiking these peaks too this winter, but also tacking on a South Sugarloaf bushwhack from the Middle peak. Maybe this spring (April).

    1. Sorry Philip, I'm just catching up to your comment. I didn't think anyone was reading my blog posts, I do enjoy reading your posts. A bushwack to South Sugarloaf would be a nice addition to North and Middle Sugarloaf!