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Maryland / DC

Sugarloaf Mountain




Open to the Public

Yes

Things To Do

Take a self-guided audio tour of the preserve.  View All

Get Directions
Why You Should Visit

Sugarloaf Mountain is a monadnock, a mountain that remains after the erosion of the surrounding land.  A Registered Natural Landmark, Sugarloaf and its surroundings have long been a mecca for birders in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The forest birds include the great horned owl, pileated woodpecker, wild turkey, and red shouldered hawk. During the spring and fall, many migratory species of songbirds can be found. 

Sugarloaf Mountain is the heart of a 3,000 acre private preserve acquired and established by Gordon Strong.  The mountain is now owned by a private, non-profit organization, Stronghold, Inc.

Explore Sugarloaf Mountain in our Passport to Nature: A D.C. Escape

eBird Observations

Click here for Preserve Visitors Guide (PDF).

What The Conservancy is Doing Here

The Nature Conservancy has obtained several pieces of land over the years from different owners as conservation easements.

In 1950, TNC purchased a farm of 187 acres on the eastern slope of Sugarloaf Mountain immediately adjacent to the Stronghold property.  In 1970, TNC sold the farm to Stronghold, Inc. to protect the land from development for all time. 

The Farr tract was conveyed to TNC in 1977 and assigned by easement to the Maryland Environmental Trust in 1978.  The Farr tract includes scenic woodland and farmland under cultivation with over 1,000 acres bordered to the south by the Little Monocacy River. 

The forested areas contain white and black oak, chestnut oak, dogwood, sassafras, tulip poplar, Virginia pine, hickory, and black locust.  The Watkins tract was conveyed to TNC in 1976 and assigned by easement to Maryland Environmental Trust in 1977.

The 286 acre Watkins tract is crossed by the Little Monocacy River and includes scenic farmland under cultivation and mature piedmont hardwood forest.  Both tracts act as buffers for Sugarloaf Mountain. 

Protection efforts are aimed at preserving the mountain and the surrounding farmland from development pressures from major metropolitan areas to the east and west.

What to See: Plants
  • The dominant tree species on Sugarloaf are the oaks of both red and white groups. Other trees include black gum, tulip poplar, black birch, and eastern hemlock.
  • The more than 500 species of plants include a variety of wildflowers, many of which can be found blooming during the warm weather months.
What to See: Animals
  • Whitetail deer are abundant on and around the mountain. Other mammals include flying squirrel, red fox, eastern cottontail, and raccoon.
  • Sugarloaf and its surroundings have long been a mecca for birders in the Mid-Atlantic region. The forest birds include the great horned owl, pileated woodpecker, wild turkey, and red shouldered hawk. During the spring and fall, many migratory species of songbirds can be found.
Download an Audio Tour

Planning a visit to Sugarloaf Mountain? Before your trip, download our self-guided audio tour to your handheld device. It's like having a naturalist in your pocket!

  • Step 1: Download the Sugarloaf Mountain audio tour map. This map will help identify which audio tracks to play based on your location on the trail, so make sure to take a copy with you on your trip.

  Parking is available in the West View parking lot.  Audio tours begin near the west end of the Green Trail
  • Step 2: Download and save the mp3 audio files to your handheld device. Play the corresponding track when you reach a waypoint along the trail. Listen to them all or pick & choose based on your interests!

Tour stops 1 - 6

Tour stops 7 - 14

Tour stops 15 - 19

Directions
From Frederick, MD
  • Take Route I-270 South to the Hyattstown exit
  • Follow Route 109 to Comus, then right on Comus Road to the Sugarloaf Mountain entrance
  • Take the road up the mountain and park in the West View parking lot. Audio tours begin near the west end of the Green Trail
From Washington, DC
  • Go North on Route I-270 to the Hyattstown exit
  • Circle under I-270 and continue on Route 109 to Comus, then right on Comus Road to the Sugarloaf Mountain entrance
  • Take the road up the mountain and park in the West View parking lot. Audio tours begin near the west end of the Green Trail
From Bethesda/ Rockville Area
  • Take Route 28 West of Rockville to Dickerson
  • After passing under the railroad bridge, turn right on Mt. Ephraim Road and go 2.5 miles to Sugarloaf Mountain entrance
  • Take the road up the mountain and park in the West View parking lot.  Audio tours begin near the west end of the Green Trail

 

Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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