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Thread: Benton Sugarloaf

  1. #1
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    Benton Sugarloaf

    What is the current status of Sugarloaf in the Benton Range? I happened to be looking at the 26th edition of the WMG the other day and noticed the trail on the map, but this isn't mentioned in the subsequent edition. Is the trail no longer actively maintained, have landowner issues cropped up, or is it for some other reason?

  2. #2
    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    This was never an official WMNF trail because it had a ladder they wouldn't approve although I didn't think it was bad. The guy who built & maintained the trail moved to Africa a few years ago, don't know if he came back & resumed his efforts. I was going to revisit the area a couple years ago but it started raining and I wanted better weather for that.

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    Thanks Roy. There's no better way to increase the popularity of an obscure trail than to mention that it has potentially unsafe ladders! Anyway, in light of your post, whoever is the next person to visit this trail will definitely have to post their findings here.

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    We made an attempt on Benton Sugarloaf a number of years ago, didn't quite make it. At the crux, which is very close to the summit, the ladder was in pieces and wasn't safe to use. There was also a stout rope at that point to help pull yourself up over the steep spot there. We made a half-hearted attempt at pulling ourselves up the rope but thought better of it because we didn't want to get hurt if we slipped and you could definitely get hurt if you fell.

    It was a beautiful May hike up to that point with lots of spring wildflowers. We still have Benton Sugarloaf on our to do list.
    J&J

  5. #5
    Senior Member Barbarossa's Avatar
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    I did it a couple years ago approaching from the Hogsback. It was pretty steep, but I used the very dense fir hoisting myself up & down.

    There were definitely human treadways on top, but the place may have gone wild. I got strafed by a small raptor. Maybe it was just playing
    Yarr!!!

  6. #6
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    I finally made it up to Sugarloaf over Memorial Day Weekend. For getting there, follow Lime Kiln Road (signed) 2.1 miles from Route 25 in East Haverhill. The gated road is also 0.7 miles beyond where Lime Kiln Road intersects with Page Road (the left turn that leads to the Chippewa Trail). I know the old guide says it's 0.8 miles from this intersection, but this will actually place you at the turn for the western end of the Blueberry Mountain Trail. Anyway, once at the correct driveway, park at the pullout at the start of the driveway, even if the green gate is open. From there, the guide is correct that you follow the driveway for a tenth of a mile, which will bring you to the yard of a modest house. Having spoken with the owner, I found out that they are okay with people using this trail, even though the route passes by their front yard. Once in this yard, you’ll see a run down garage on the right, as well as a logging road come in on the right. Turning onto this, it will shortly bring you to a large clearing that looks like it could be an old sand pit. At this point, you’ll see a lesser logging road forking off to the right, which might be a little obstructed by some blowdowns. According to the guide, you’re on this lesser logging road for about half a mile, but it seemed a little longer than that. Regardless, you’ll eventually encounter a bridge (which is the only one along this woods road) and once across you’ll see the trail come in on the right (it was marked by a blank pointed wooden sign). As noted above, this trail is not actively maintained, and is overgrown in the lower sections as it passes through a broadleaf forest. Nevertheless, there is an apparent treadway, as well as blue blazes in regular intervals and the occasional surveyor’s tape. What makes this trail tricky to follow are the infrequent blowdowns. In all cases, the trail picks up again directly on the other side of the blowdown. As for the steep cliff climb, the ropes are still intact and the wooden ladder still seemed to be in good shape. Once at the top of this short steep section, the trail turns to the right to continue to ascend to the summit, while up ahead and to the left is an outlook that faces to the west (during my ascent, I was so focused on this outlook that I missed where the trail turns to the right, and had to hunt around to find where it continued on). Once on Sugarloaf’s summit, the trail passes all the major outlooks, which collectively offer 360 degree views (overall, the views are very similar to those found on neighboring Black Mountain, and in my opinion were better than those on Blueberry). Toward the end, the trail peters out to a herd path (there are actually a few herd paths on the summit, which connect all the major outlooks), and after the last east-looking viewpoints it petered out to nothing. After searching a little, I was unable to find any other paths that continued on to the Hogsback or Blueberry.

    Just overall, I found this to be a very worthwhile peak to visit, and with the cliff section and the fact the trail isn’t currently maintained certainly adds to the element of adventure for this hike.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Jason Berard's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info, Nate! Nice TR.

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