Kilburn Crags with North and Middle Sugarloaf

October 19, 2015.

One really quick hike to finish my second region in the AMC White Mountain Guide, Cannon and Kinsman. Kilburn Crags is located in Littleton so quite the drive for such a short hike. In fact I think it took just as long to find the trailhead as it did to hike it.

Eventually I deciphered/got lucky and found the trail right along Route 18. Parking on the side of the road and off I go. A chilly start with the temps in the low 20's as I head up the edge of a field to the woods.


It's all woods now as the trail is really an old woods road with a gentle climb up to the outlook. Along the way there are a couple of benches to rest or just enjoy the scenery.


The trail turns left off the road and becomes a trail as it makes the final push to the crags where there is a picnic table. One of the drawbacks of getting on the trail this early is the sun is low and makes the pictures so-so especially with a south facing view.


Even so the views are fantastic from this new perspective. On this cloudless morning the view is expansive from Adams all the way across to Lafayette.

There are a few wispy clouds on some of the higher peaks such as the Twins and it's neighbor Garfield.


Pictures collected and it is time to get down and find something for my next hike as mission is accomplished with my second region 100% completed!

Final numbers: 1.8 miles, 55 minutes.

Redline Miles: 0.9, Total to Date: 945.6

Driving back from Littleton and I decided I would do the Sugarloafs located in Twin Mountain. So turning onto Route 302 and as I made my way through Bethlehem I remembered there is an old abandoned railroad station in town somewhere. Luckily it was easy to find on a side road right off Route 302. Just off the road and in the woods I spied what I was hoping to see before it succumbed to the forces of nature.


This is the old Maplewood Train Station which hasn't been in use since they tore up the tracks back in the 1920's. It's a great architectural looking building and sad to see it just waste away. Unfortunately it is too far gone to save as you can see from the pictures.



At least I got to see it in person before it takes that last lean and comes tumbling down. I will say with some of the storms we have had over the years that it is impressive that it still is standing especially after last winter's record snowfall.

Arriving at the Sugarloafs trailhead located on Zealand Road right before the bridge over Zealand River. Not a big hike but there are two sets of trails here. A loop hike of the Trestle Trail and then a tee hike of Sugarloaf Trail with both starting at the same spot.

Across the bridge and a right turn at the beginning of the shared trails. Off to the right is the Zealand River which the trail parallels. Passing by the junction where the rest of the Sugarloaf Trail turns off to the left and the Trestle Trail continues straight. Soon the trail pulls away from the river and meanders through the woods.


After crossing a snowmobile trail and re-entering the woods there is a huge fractured erratic on the trail.


Reaching Zealand River again and the bridge is no longer there having been washed away back in 2005. The only thing left are the anchor points on both sides. Finding a place to cross looked like it would not be too bad until you start looking at the rock hopping options. Straight across looked pretty good except I couldn't see what was beyond that large boulder in the center where the water is rushing through.


I checked out three more possibilities both up and downstream and all had one questionable spot that I didn't feel comfortable with. Finally downstream about twenty feet I found a spot that had one place in the middle that looked slightly hairy compared to the other four options. The issue wasn't the rocks as much as whether there was black ice on them especially with the cold temps overnight and this morning. Sure enough when pushing off one of the rocks it slipped and fortunately the other foot only went into a couple of inches of water while catching another rock.


Safely across on the other side and the trail emerges onto the road for the summer camping area. A little ways up it heads into the woods again and comes out at the parking lot. Back onto Sugarloaf Trail and this time the left at the junction. About ten minutes up the trail and I reach a nice surprise (didn't read the guide book description before coming out here) area where there are erratics littered all around.


Not long after passing the boulder field and the trail starts the climb up to the junction in the col between Middle and North Sugarloaf. I pass by a mother and daughter on the way up and arrive at the junction deciding to head to the right for North Sugarloaf first. Off to the side is a huge exposed ledge with a large crack right down it. How many freeze and thaw cycles has this gone through to create this impressive fissure?


The trail turns to the left and starts descending down the flank. Why do trails do this and am I heading in the right direction? To my right I get a glimpse of the rocky outcropping I should be heading to. In a cruel joke the trail skirts around the base of the mountain and comes up from the east side reaching the summit where a lone erratic is sitting.


Past the boulder and the money shot that only takes forty minutes to reach. Why I put this one off for so long I don't know but as luck would have it this is the perfect day to do it. The cold crisp temps offer the best views and there is a high pressure also which usually guarantees no clouds and winds. Looking straight east is the Presidential Range and they are dusted with snow which enhances the view even more. What a surprise as I couldn't tell they were dusted earlier from Kilburn Crags because of the low morning sun.

That's it...end of report! How do I top this today? Well there is no topping that picture but I will continue on as these two peaks are amazing and relatively easy to climb. Two guys are here ahead of me and we have a good conversation about different things. Shortly the mother and daughter arrive and join the conversation. The mother is from the Chicago area and the daughter from San Francisco here on a business trip. The mother joined her and are hiking in their spare time which in itself is very cool. Can't think of a better way to enjoy your free time than spending it up here in the Whites. I explain my project to them and give them the address to my site. So if you are reading this it was nice to meet you and hope you enjoy your next trip up here as there is never a lack of places to go and see. Past the erratic and to the south is another exposed ledge with views to the south. Straight ahead is the next stop, Middle Sugarloaf. To the right of that are the Twins, South just barely visible and North all dusted up.


Back down the trail and off to Middle Sugarloaf. It is a quick thirty minute trip as there is a ladder heading up to the final push. Of the two summits this one is much better in my opinion. It is more open and dramatic with the ledge dropping off in some spots. Making my way around the mostly open summit and there is a view back to North Sugarloaf.


Heading over to the east side and I discover another propane tank staging area which I imagine is for Zealand Hut and possibly Galehead also. Before leaving I get one last look at the Presi's in all their glory.


I can see myself coming back here and hopefully sharing it with Lisa seeing how for very little effort there is a huge reward with all the views. If only we can get our schedules to align....hmmmm.

Final numbers: 3.5 miles, 3 hours and 35 minutes.

Redline Miles: 2.5, Total to Date: 948.1