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Sugarloaf Mountain, MD

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Hike Summary

Sugarloaf Mountain is a strange creature. It’s a monadnock, which is one of those hills that’s left over after glaciers have had their way with a place. It is there, in the middle of Maryland, minding its own business.

It’s a pretty popular place, at least when the weather is warm. I only saw 3 other people this day, and for good reason: it was freezing when I started out on my early morning hike.

Literally freezing: 30ºF. I had had to scrape ice off my windshield when I started out that morning. Suffice to say, it was a bit chilly.

Once I got moving though, I got pretty warm. The initial climb of this hike was pretty steep, direct from the parking lot up to the summit. The trail was in a pretty sorry state: horribly eroded from all that popularity. It could definitely use some TLC and improvement, but I’m not sure if the maintainers have that kind of resources: Sugarloaf is free.

Having the summit ascent at the beginning of the hike was almost a let down — the remainder of the hike was mostly downhill, winding around through hills and folds of the mountain. I saw several white-tail deer, and I’m glad that I finally had my safety orange hat for my head and a vest for my dog, as they’re in the process of culling the deer population.

For some reason, I couldn’t get the song “Marshmallow World” out of my head as I hiked along. The Dean Martin one, to be specific. The terrain I was on was anything but marshmallowy. It was rather rocky, although once I got off the sunrise trail and onto the blue trail, it was less eroded, and at times the rockiness gave way to sandy soil and occasional gravel.

The song knocking around in my head gave me some time to reflect on my family and the holidays. I do miss my family terribly, and would love to be able to afford to fly out and visit for the holidays, but it hasn’t been possibly the past couple of years. Something has always gotten in the way. I hope that his next year, I’ll perhaps be able to visit in the summer, when the heat is punishing here, but not so bad there.

I hiked on, taking a small break at a pile of rocks that almost seemed like a chimney stack but had no actual explanation or signage. I wound my way around to White Rocks, which afforded a nice view west towards Frederick.

On the way back around, I had a minor crisis at an intersection with a road. The bits that I’d printed out happened to be lacking the actual trail description, only a map of Sugarloaf park itself, and my GPS was being a little fuzzy on the directions. I didn’t exactly panic, but my frustration level built up a bit from not being entirely sure where to go, and I have to admit that I snapped a little at my dog, who insisted on not holding still and wrapping himself around my legs several times. Once I was able to realize that I was getting stressed out, I calmed myself and simply decided I should follow the road a ways, and this turned out to be the right direction. I made sure to make up for my exasperation at my dog by giving him some extra treats once we were underway.

I was a little smidge disappointed that once I was back at the West parking, the remainder of the trail directions led me down the road to the East parking, but it wasn’t very long, and I was happy to get back to the car. I’d burned a lot of calories this day, so I was looking forward to stopping by a creamery that I’d spotted on the way, Rocky Point Creamery.

Sadly, I was to be disappointed. The implications of it being December really didn’t register on my West Coast native brain, and the creamery was sadly closed.

I had a backup plan, though. I thought about stopping in Leesburg, but I still don’t know the area well enough — something I really need to remedy one of these days. Instead, I drove home and went to an old faithful — Cupcake Heaven.

Butterscotch cupcakes are truly the best.

Sugarloaf, MD

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