View Full Version : A Bird's Eye View of North, Middle & South Sugarloaf Mtn (Zealand): 19-Mar-2010

03-21-2010, 04:07 PM
At one time or another, probably many folks on this Forum has done the hike up to North and Middle Sugarloaf off the Zealand Road.
Both of these little mountains offer a "big bang for the buck" in terms of views.

Meanwhile, poor little South Sugarloaf is trail-less and therefore doesn't get many visitors. Before the snow becomes completely useless in terms of bushwhacking, I wanted to pay a visit not only to South Sugarloaf, but also to a ledge to its south that is about 350 higher than the summit of South Sugarloaf. From that ledge, I was hoping to get a bird's-eye view of all 3 Sugarloaf mountains.

The whack up to South Sugarloaf went fine. The snow was far from being a hardened boiler plate, which would have been ideal. However, the snow was firm enough for some doable bushwhacking. There were occasional soft spots which resulted in unexpected plunges (a.k.a. "spruce traps"). However, for each plunge, self-extraction was an easy undertaking!:D

I'd been to South Sugarloaf once before in August 2008, and I recall being amazed at the orange/tan almost sand-like material on the summit area of this mountain.
Geology (among many other areas) isn't one of my strong suits. Is this material what is sometimes referred to as "rotten granite"?:confused:

This orange/tan material is evident in a couple of the snapshots (shown below) which were taken from South Sugarloaf.

View of Presidential Range from South Sugarloaf


Another View of Presidential Range from South Sugarloaf


Tom, Field, Willey from South Sugarloaf


Okay . . . I spent far too much time basking in the warm sunshine on South Sugarloaf. And so now I started to wonder if I would have time to visit the ledge to the south. I could see it clearly from South Sugarloaf. It was taunting me to give it a try. The distance to the ledge was known (a short 0.3 mile, as the crow flies). But the great unknown was how many glitches might be encountered along the way.

Below is a snapshot of the ledge as seen from South Sugarloaf.


Finally, I talked myself into giving it a shot, and so I headed off in the direction of the ledge. It turned out to be a relatively short and easy bushwhack. And, when I got out onto the ledge, I was rewarded with the view of the 3 Sugarloaf Mountains, all lined up in a row.

First in line, and just below me, was the orange/tan summit of South Sugarloaf, followed by Middle Sugarloaf with its massive south-facing cliff clearly visible. And just a bit beyond Middle Sugarloaf, I could see some of the rocky top of North Sugarloaf.

South, Middle and North Sugarloaf from a 3,360 ft. Ledge


So, with the type of weather we've been having, this might well have been my last snowshoe bushwhack for this season. But that's okay . . . there are plenty of days ahead for great hiking, both on and off trail!:)


03-21-2010, 05:12 PM
I always enjoy reading your off-the-beaten-path accounts...this TR is no exception. Great photos, especially that last one of all the Sugarloafs (Sugarloaves?) lined up in row.

Tar Heel
03-21-2010, 08:23 PM
awesome pictures, i especially like the presidential range line up

03-21-2010, 08:29 PM
Very nice John! More great unique views. What a day it was to be up there too. We had the great fortune to be on Pierce that day. I love both the angle on the Presi's from Sugarloaf and the great view of Sugarloaf from the ledge. And here's hoping for a bit more cold weather to enable a couple of more snowshoe 'whacks for you (and more great views for us).

03-23-2010, 12:34 PM
Thank you Trish, Amy and Mark for your very kind comments!

Anna LeBlanc
03-23-2010, 12:50 PM
John you never stop amazing me with your wonderful TR's and beautiful photos.But you have made a very bad case of missing the White's EVEN WORSE!!!!!:D:p:D


03-24-2010, 03:03 PM
First of all, thank you Anna for your very kind remarks about my reports!

Secondly, I thought I'd add a tidbit of information that I learned after having done this hike. This information might be of limited interest, but for anyone who might be curious, here it is!

In my original posting for this trip, I noted that I was amazed at the orange/tan almost sand-like material on the summit area of this mountain; especially since it is quite different from the slabs of gray granite which are found at the top of Middle and North Sugarloaf.

I've since learned from David Govatski (noted naturalist/historian in Jefferson, NH) that the grainy gravel on South Sugarloaf is commonly called rotten rock (or rotten granite) and it's a popular road building material in the Conway and Albany area. He said that feldspar is the glue that holds granite together. Through the weathering process, feldspar is washed away and the grainy gravel is what you have left. So why then is the top of South Sugarloaf so different from the other two Sugarloaf mountains? David said that although Middle and North Sugarloaf are also composed of Conway Granite, a slightly different chemical composition has provided those two mountaintops with a better resistance to the weathering process.

KD Talbot
03-30-2010, 07:19 PM
I've stood on Middle Sugarloaf many times and wondered about hiking over to South and what the views may be like. Now I know! Thanks again, John!