Yesterday I went on a hike around Sugarloaf Mountain, a 1,282 foot tall mountain and park located roughly halfway between Germantown, MD and Frederick, MD. There’s some important history that took place at Sugarloaf Mountain during the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War in 1862. In the early 1900’s, businessman Gordon Strong bought the land and later in 1947 he set up a trust fund that maintains a trail system and other tourist facilities at Sugarloaf Mountain. In 1969 the mountain was designated a National Natural Landmark due to its historical and geographical significance. Today it remains an admission-free park, privately owned by Stronghold, Incorporated.
The mountain itself is an example of a monadnock — an isolated hill or small mountain rising abruptly from gently sloping or level surrounding land. It appears to be either an outlier to the east of the main mass of Catoctin Mountain, or a root remnant of the ancient Appalachian land mass.
The mountain contains four main trails, blue, purple, white and yellow. The trail that I chose to take was the Yellow Trail which circles the perimeter of the mountain. The yellow trail is about seven miles and took me roughly three hours to complete. After parking in the main area located at the cross roads of Comus Rd and Sugarloaf Mtn Rd , I hiked through the mountain entrance and made my way up the street towards the Yellow Trail entrance.
The Yellow Trail isn’t the best maintained trail. I noticed two or three big trees that had fallen that had not been cleared making it difficult to pass throughout the trail. I also noticed that it was difficult to stay on the correct path due to the lack of yellow blazes on trees and other tracks branching off of the trail which make it confusing. That being said, it was still an enjoyable trail to hike on as long as you pay attention to the markers. The first part of the trail (markers Y1 – Y7) head north and seemed to be the least accessed part of the trail. After the Y7 marker there is a fork in the trail and you can choose to go to either of the two peaks.
You then continue west on the Yellow Trail between markers Y7 and Y9 until you come to and cross over Mt. Epharaim Rd. and begin traveling south on the trail parallel to the road. It was from the area between the Y10 and Y11 markers that I was able to see the only view of the mountain while on the trail. (See picture below)
The Yellow trail then crosses back over Mt Epharaim Rd. south back towards the main entrance to the mountain.
I actually only saw one other person on the Yellow Trail yesterday, probably due to the overcast weather.