day hike at sugarloaf mountain

I had a day off last week and took the opportunity to embrace the last bits of fall on a hike through Sugarloaf Mountain. The property is privately owned (read: no entrance fee) and located about an hour outside of the District by car. I’ve heard great things about this particular spot, and it’s been on my list of things to do for quite some time. It also happened to be one of the hikes in my handy-dandy “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Washington DC” book. Fate!

the entrance lot parking area

There are a few different parking options at Sugarloaf. You can park in the entrance lot–which looks a lot like a cul-de-sac–or continue through the front gates to one of many lots located throughout the property. I figured it was worth starting my hike from the very bottom, where the trail begins between two farm houses.

Then I turned left to follow the White Trial, which makes a 2.5 mile loop around the summit. The instructions in my guide book were spot on: “Proceed past ‘Smokey Says’ sign, toilet, and shed.” It looks like the trail is roped off, but this is the right way to go.

Most of the leaves had already fallen and covered the path in a brown, crunchy carpet. Luckily, I was able to hunt around for some traces of proper fall foliage.

The hike is broad and flat in some spots, and steep in others. It’s a good variety and keeps you on your toes.

At one point, I decided to make a break for the summit. I had been hiking for an hour and a half and was ready to take in the view and eat my packed lunch: whole grain toast with almond butter, a smear of pumpkin butter, and sliced bananas. Perfect!

There are miles and miles of trails to explore all up and down the mountain. Whether you’re looking for steep climbs, leisurely strolls, trail running or sightseeing – it’s all here. Especially if you want a workout with great scenery. And only an hour from the city? Yes please.

Note to self: leave time next time to visit the adorable vineyard located just outside of the hiking grounds.

What other DC hiking haunts would you recommend?

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