A Shorter Loop at Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland

Rain, muggy, then rain again! My last week before returning to teach summer classes was less than ideal. While I got out for a few spins around downtown Frederick, I was missing the woods.  Sunday came with the gift of opportunity!  I chose to go to Sugarloaf Mountain!

Sugarloaf is a classic place to go hiking…translation…it can be super crowded and the port-a-potties always smell…

However, there are times when introverts like me can actually enjoy the mountain.  Go early and preferably on a weekday, although super early usually does the trick.  Park behind the mountain on Mt. Ephraim road and head up the Blue or Yellow trails.  It is a gravel road, but well packed down.  In addition, improvements have been made so the creek now flows underneath the road bed!

I was out the door with Sidekick Pauli at 6:30 AM, and after a few stops, was on the trail at 7:20 AM.  There was not a soul around!!! Yessssss!!!!

Mt. Ephraim Road

Mt. Ephraim Road

I parked at the usual spot on Mt. Ephraim road and headed up the Blue trail to White Rocks. The whole area was fogged in leaving the woods with mist hovering in the branches of trees and spider webs glistening with water droplets. Very moody, like something out of a BBC period production.  Too bad it doesn’t come out well in the photos because it was pretty outstanding!

Starting the Blue Trail just off Mt. Ephraim Road

Starting the Blue Trail just off Mt. Ephraim Road

It was also incredibly humid. Cool, but humid! Sidekick Pauli was delighted to find a spring dumping out directly onto the trail.  I was delighted to find a few stepping stones so I could hop over said spring!

Arriving at White Rocks, we found we were still fogged in.  We sat for a few minutes becoming part of the quietness that surrounded us.  When we got going again the birds were beginning to chatter to each other.  Ahhh, can’t beat being out here in the early morning!

No view at White Rock so Sidekick Pauli is searching for...?

No view at White Rock so Sidekick Pauli is searching for…?


Foggy Woods

The Blue trail winds down, then up to one of the lesser summits at 1015 feet (Mt. Ephraim road is at 500 feet).  The summit is marked by a big rock pile.  I added a rock to the pile and kept on.

Lesser Summit 1015 feet

Sidekick Pauli at the Lesser Summit of 1015 feet

Coming down the mountain, it looked as if the trail has been rerouted to accommodate new switchbacks! Nice!  Soon after the switchback I spotted a dog barreling down the trail.  “I have a dog.” I called out in a stage voice that hasn’t gotten much use since high school.  The owners, thankfully, were able to call back their dog and get him on a leash. Sidekick Pauli is not fond of people or animals that intrude into her personal space without invitation!  Crisis was averted and we continued down the trail once the dog and its owners passed by.


Having limited time and I chose to take the yellow trail back down to Mt. Ephraim Road.  A new trail to explore, a welcome change!  A nice trail too!  Even though this is the “Horse Trail” it was wide and easy to walk.

Great Trail! Just for horses? Looks like cars too.

Great Trail! Just for horses? Looks like cars too.

No obvious pock marks, not a lot of horse poo, but occasionally there was a disgusting, muddy puddle of water.  This was not unexpected after the rain in the area this week!

Yuck, Yuck, Yuck!

Yuck, Yuck, Yuck! Sidekick Pauli…DON’T even THINK about it!

The complete loop, Blue from Mt. Ephraim road to White Rocks, then to the Yellow trail back to Mt Ephraim road, was about four miles.  Long enough to get your mind in the right place, but short enough to not wear you out (just in case you have to go home and help with housework…)!

Grab the dog in your life and hike on! 🙂

The Red, White & Blue Challenge Update!

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We, as in Sidekick Pauli and myself, hit the Red Trail at Gambrill SP just as the sun was coming up over the eastern ridge of the mountain. It was very quiet! This trail is short and I found that it connects the campground with the larger trail system at Gambrill.  Even though the distance […]

11/9/2013 A Frosty Start on Sugarloaf Mountain

Saturday morning I headed out at 8 AM for Sugarloaf Mountain.  I was leading a hike for Trail Dames (Maryland) at 9 AM and wanted to make sure I had enough time to get there to meet the Dames as they arrived.  Well, it was a good thing I left a little early as I was greeted with a full wind shield of frost on the car!  Now, my car is 10 years old and the heat…well, the heat is sporadic at best.  Actually, manic – depressive is probably the most apt description.  I either get hit with heat so hot I have to crack the windows, or air that feels like I have opened a freezer.  Anyway, the point is, defrosting the window was going to take a little time! 😉

Luckily, the coin flip was in my favor and soon I could see out the front window!  Off I went to Sugarloaf to meet the Dames.

It was going to be a beautiful day.  The sky was blue and as I passed a few farms along the way, I sighed in content at the frost covered corn fields.  Yes, this was autumn.  The crisp air, the sharp smell of wood smoke, and the rattle of bare branches on trees as the cold wind of winter tried to bully its way in.  I was really enjoying the morning drive to the mountain…of course, my heat was working which added to my contentment! 🙂

On the mountain I found 3 Dames already in attendance.  We waited for the rest of the group and after two rounds of introductions, we got moving…30 degrees this morning!  We followed the blue trail down the mountain.  Many of the leaves had fallen, which, in addition to the rocky path, made for slow going.  The leaves were a little slippery and a wrong step would have resulted in a none too pleasant fall on quite possibly a very pointy rock!

Once down the mountain we crossed Mt. Ephraim road and started the climb up to White Rocks.  Now, at this point, you may be wondering why I haven’t illustrated my post with some trail pictures.  Well, here’s the thing.  I did take my camera and it had a memory card and fully charged battery but when I took it out and tried to snap a photo of the Dames I got this message “the memory card is locked”.  Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?  How does that even happen?  Anyway, I will insert one pic of the Dames at White Rocks which I stole from Boomerang.  (I made Boomerang an official co-leader on this hike, so it is only right that the leader should steal the co-leader’s pics when her own camera fails her 😉  )

Trail Dames at White Rocks

Trail Dames at White Rocks

We made it to White Rocks and had a moment with the beautiful view to the west of Sugarloaf.  I say a moment because it was really too cold and windy to stay up there for long!  I suggested we head to the big cairn in the woods to have a break.  The Dames were in agreement so we continued down the blue trail rolling up and over the hills.  The cairn is on a lesser summit and turned out to be a lovely spot for a break!  Great logs to sit on and the cairn provided a little shelter from the occasional gust of wind.

After our break, it was back to the ups and downs.  In the summer there are no views along this part of the trail, but in winter, wow!  We could see the surrounding ridges and countryside throughout most of the hike.  The sky was so blue and the sun shown through golden leaves that had yet to fall.  Just beautiful!

We finished our hike 4 hours after our chilly beginning, it was now a balmy 53 degrees!  Lovely day with a great bunch of women!  So glad we were able to share this time together!  The Maryland Trail Dames rock!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

AT – MD Post Training Hike…Feeling good!!!

I met my hiking pal at the West View parking lot on Sugarloaf Mountain in Montgomery County, Maryland for our training hike.  I had everything in my pack except food in the bear vault.

We started downhill with full packs hoping to make this loop before the heat set in!  Temperatures were to soar to 85 degrees on this sunny October day.  The pack felt good…actually better than I anticipated.  But then again, I was going down hill, and a nicely graded downhill at that!

After dropping about 500 feet we crossed Mt. Ephraim Road and started up!  I kept waiting for the worst, but it didn’t come and we made it easily to the view from White Rocks after a rocky climb of 300 feet.

Sugarloaf Oct 2013And then came the roller coaster as we traversed another 200 feet up to one of the lesser summits on the blue trail at an elevation of 1015 feet, down to 750 feet elevation, then back up to another lesser summit at 995 feet!  After that the rolling is a little less intense.  The last hill was hot and slow as the heat had really begun to deliver a beat down.

Final verdict…great training hike!  And glad we got done before the real hot afternoon heat set in!!



Sugarloaf Mountain 7/25/13

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Oh! The orange trail is the most fun at Sugarloaf! But I am getting ahead of myself… At 6 pm I was sitting in my car at the Urbana park & ride waiting for Boomerang. Commuters were returning from the Washington, D.C. Area in cars, vans and busses. Everyone was moving, in transition from the […]