Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Elevation: 1,282 ft.

Vertical: 800 ft.

Geologically, Sugarloaf is known as a monadnock, a mountain that remains after the erosion of the surrounding land. Here, that process took approximately 14 million years. The rugged cliffs on the summit are composed primarily of quartzite, the predominant type of rock on the mountain.

The dominant tree species on Sugarloaf are the oaks of both red and white groups. These trees are being threatened by oak decline, a result of several factors of which the introduced gypsy moth is a part. Other trees include black gum, tulip poplar, black birch and eastern hemlock. The more than 500 species of plants here include a variety of wildflowers, many of which can be found blooming during the warm weather months.

White tailed deer are abundant on and around the mountain. Other mammals include flying squirrel, red fox, eastern cottontail and raccoon. The forest birds include the great horned owl, pileated woodpecker, wild turkey and red shouldered hawk. During the spring and fall, many migratory species of songbirds can be found.

Please be aware that this is the habitat of the timber rattlesnake and the copperhead. Look, but do not touch!

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Image Credit: Sugarloaf Mountain


The park is open daily from 8:00 AM until one hour before sunset.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)


Nearly a quarter-million men, women and children visit Sugarloaf Mountain annually to enjoy its scenic vistas, to picnic at its overlooks, and to hike and ride horseback along its miles of trails. Others come to observe and photograph its plant and animal life. Stronghold Trustees are involved in the program to restore the once-plentiful American chestnut trees, which were swept from the mountain's flanks by an alien blight in the early 1900's


Sugarloaf came by its name because its shape reminded early hunters and pioneers of the sugar loaves common in those days. A Swiss explorer, in 1707, sketched the earliest known map of the mountain. A written account, penned five years later, described a plain atop the mountain and the delicious chestnuts grown by the trees on its flanks. General Braddock, commander of Brittish troops during the French and Indian War, marched his men past the mountain in 1755. Northern and Southern forces alternated in posting lookouts at its summit during the Civil War. Brave wounded and dying soldiers were hospitalized in a log cabin that still stands at the mountain's foot.

Sugarloaf's glory days are not all in the past. It has a bright and useful future. Today it is available year-round to the public. Present and future generations may continue to enjoy its natural beauty in all seasons and weather. This was made possible by the vision and persistance of a remarkable couple, Gordon and Louise Strong. For years prior to their deaths, they purposefully gained ownership of the many tracts making up the present property. They created a private organization, Stronghold, Incorporated, in 1946, to ensure that the mountain would continue to serve their purpose of making natural beauty available to all.


Last updated: October 28, 2022
Potomac Trail