Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Our first real outing here in the Old Line State was to Sugarloaf Mountain. The "mountain" is all of 1,282 feet. As puny as that may sound, it still makes for nice views. Anything you read about Sugarloaf is likely to say the same thing: despite its relatively low elevation as a "mountain", Sugarloaf dominates the horizon. It's surrounded by flat terrain of 300 to 400 feet.
If you're out looking for a rugged outdoor experience, somewhere to test your mountaineering and orienteering skills, this is not the place. But it is perfect for family outings. The various trail lengths do allow you to choose from a range of experiences. There is a trail that skirts the base of the mountain, where you can really work up some miles and enjoy relative solitude. If you want to head for the peak to take in some views, it's only about a 200 foot gain from the parking lot, and less than a mile. The views from the peak are nothing to laughed at.
Aside from the trails and views, the mountain also has some significant history. Unfortunately, our trip came on a weekday afternoon when I got home from work, so we didn't have ample time to explore the man-made attractions. There is a mansion and some other buildings.
When we arrived, we forgot to grab a map, so we had some issues finding the trail we wanted. Initially we headed down the trail the skirts the peak, thinking that eventually it would lead us to the top. After a few minutes we backtracked and found the green-blazed trail that was to take us to the top.
Even while hiking on the red-blazed trail, there were still some nice rock out-croppings that offered decent views, and it was enough to keep Gabriel entertained.
The green-blazed trail to the top was well maintained. Purists would say a little too well-maintained. It was paved with flagstone, and when the elevation kicked in, there were stone-carved steps with a rail. For this occasion, I was okay with the manicured walk-way. Laura was about 7 months pregnant and Gabriel benefited from the improved footing.
The exposed rock "cliffs" up toward the peak were, in their own way, impressive. When we went up there were some rock jocks using the boulders as a training spot. Gabriel was impressed.
We got to the top with enough daylight to have a snack and soak in the views. Again, even with the low elevation, the views were impressive. We were a little past time for peak fall colors, and high winds had knocked most of the leaves off the trees. It was still great scenery. In the end, Sugarloaf Mountain gets a thumbs-up from me. Young families in the area should put this one on their shortlist