The millionaire Gordon Strong discovered Sugarloaf Mountain for himself, and fell totally in love with it at the turn of the twentieth century. He did not, however, keep it for himself. He felt that the mountain and its wonderful views were not only pleasant, but also had the capacity to improve the visitor.
It certainly has had a transforming effect on me, not only with its wonderful overlooks, but also its wealth of plant and animal life, its lively streams, and its deep history.
Below, I am sharing with you the products of my years of visiting the mountain and attempting to capture the wonders photographically.
Please view my photographic products and my individual pictures, on this page below:
Book Available Later in 2021
Gallery of Sugarloaf Photos
- Pictures exploring Sugarloaf Mountain by car
- Hiking on and around Sugarloaf Mountain
- Local history and community around Sugarloaf
Photo Book of Sugarloaf Mountain, Expected Out Maybe in 2021
This is the proposed cover for a picture book on Sugarloaf Mountain that Howard and I hope and expect to publish on Amazon in this year. We have created a first draft, and are currently in an editing phase. When that is done, we will be pursuing publishing efforts. Stay tuned for more developments.
Exploring Sugarloaf Mountain by Car
Stronghold Square is the first stop when visiting Sugarloaf Mountain by car. The long brick building houses the administrative offices of Stronghold Incorporated, named for its founder, Gordon Strong. This organization owns and manages the mountain and surrounding woods in accordance with the wishes of Mr. Strong in his will. This building began life as a vocational school, funded by Gordon Strong to benefit the local community. To learn more about Stronghold Incorporated and to make donations for the upkeep of the mountain, visit their website at http://www.sugarloafmd.com/index.html.
Below are additional pictures of places on Sugarloaf Mountain that can be visited by car.
Adjacent to Stronghold Square are several buildings, but also a large pond. Gordon Strong used to row about this pond for exercise.
Well, you did it! You started driving up the mountain, and now you’ve arrived at the East Side Parking Lot. Here you find a lovely picnic area and overlook, looking east over the rich Piedmont farmland.
Continuing along the road to the West Side, you see the view to the west that Gordon Strong created for his friend Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who didn’t need to leave his car for a lovely view of the valley and mountains to the west.
Now you’re driving down the mountain road and you pass some impressive mansions. The first one you come to is the Strong Mansion, which Gordon Strong built for himself and his wife, to make life on the mountain luxurious. You too could enjoy it for a day by renting it from Stronghold Incorporated for your special occasion.
Hiking Sugarloaf Mountain
Some of you may imagine that there is more to see if you get out of your car and do some hiking in the woods. Good guess! One of your first hikes might be to visit the summit, and enjoy the exhilarating view from the top, seen here. The little silver sliver is the Potomac River.
There’s more to the summit than just an overlook. Check out this Broad Headed Skink that was running along this rock, hoping that I wouldn’t eat him.
There are also a lot of interesting plants on the summit, such as this Mountain Laurel with spring flowers.
If you’re ambitious, you can reach the summit by hiking up the Orange Trail, which is quite steep in places–a real challenge for you capable hikers.
An alternative route to the summit is the Green Trail, which starts on the West Side. It’s a very different experience, with much of it’s length paved with stone steps.
If you climbed the Green Trail, you might have enjoyed seeing some rock climbers ascending the rock face. In this case the climbers were quite diminutive, just learning the ropes.
Surrounding the summit is the White Trail. On the west side of the mountain there is a side trail that goes a short distance from the White Trail to this abandoned farmstead. I can imagine a nineteenth century farmer working the land here and coming home after a long day to his log cabin, of which today only the chimney remains.
The Sugarloaf Mountain main summit is in the south, but then there is a smaller one in the north. Beneath that northern summit is a west-looking overlook called White Rocks. Although it’s not at the northern summit (it’s on the side of the mountain), it does have some great views, like seen here.
The main trail that takes you north is the Blue Trail. Here a friend and I are examining a glistening stream that was running down the side of the mountain beside the Blue Trail. That same stream contributed to early nineteenth century industry near the mountain. Today it contributes to a variety of plant and animal life.
At the north end of the Blue Trail is the Purple Trail, which skirts the lower reaches of the north end of the mountain. The Purple Trail features a frog pond, but this frog recommends that you don’t come visiting.
Circumnavigating much (but not all) of the mountain is the Yellow Trail, which hikers, bikers (in season), and horsers can enjoy. Here a tree blew over and twisted itself above the trail, like a kind of gate.
Hikers can enjoy the park in winter too–even when it snows. Here you see me ascending the Orange Trail in the snow, looking like I’m having fun.
Exploring Sugarloaf History and Local Community Features
Sugarloaf Mountain is much more than a piece of geography. It’s also rich in history with a strong vibrant community. Here is the Bell’s Chapel UMC church beside the local cemetery.
Not far from Sugarloaf Mountain is the locally famous Comus Inn, which was originally a nineteenth century farmhouse that was subsequently expanded to meet demand for the fine food.
How would you like a pond in your backyard, with water lilies and perhaps a waterfall. Well, you can! Come to Lilypons, not far from the mountain, and get all the inspiration and materials you need. Or–just come on out and enjoy the summer blossoms.
Sugarloaf Mountain certainly enjoys a lot of beautiful nature. How would you like to enjoy all that nature with a glass of award-winning wine in hand. The Sugarloaf Winery is the place to come and enjoy this wonderful combination. Note that the wines are not just OK–they really are award winning wines.