At a Glance
Hours: Open daily, 8 am until sunset. The front gate closes at 4 pm. If you are on the Stronghold property after sunset, you have overstayed your welcome. Car parked after sunset will be towed.
Cost: Free. Visitors are encouraged to become members of Stronghold, Inc. to contribute support.
Tips: Hike with caution: copperheads and timber rattlesnakes are present but rarely seen. ◾ The mountain is private property, shared with the public. Visitors must be aware of and obey all rules (see https://sugarloafmd.com/rules-regulations/). ◾ Obey vehicle speed limit of 15 mph. ◾No parking in the crossroads or “square,” or on roadsides. Park only in designated areas. Do not park on roadsides. ◾ Parking spaces are limited and may be full during the busy spring and fall seasons. Plan to arrive early; weekdays are less busy. ◾ Heed one-way traffic signs. There are spikes that will damage tires of cars attempting to travel the wrong way up the mountain exit road. ◾ Security cameras are in operation at key locations. Photos will be captured of all vehicles that enter the property, including tag numbers. ◾The owners request visitors to report vandalism or other illegal activity by calling 911 for situations in progress, or to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office (301-600-1046) and to Stronghold Incorporated (301-874-2024 or email to email@example.com).◾ Restrooms are located in parking areas; see Trail Map at link below for locations.
Best Seasons: Year-round, although summer can be hot and buggy.
Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Buckeystown SE, Buckeystown CE, Urbana SW
Local MOS Chapter: Frederick Bird Club
7901 Comus Road, Dickerson, MD 20842
Note: As of October 10, 2023, Sugarloaf Mountain has made changes to its operations to improve security. These steps were taken because of an attempted break-in at the Strong Mansion in August 2023. The official website states (bolding added by editor):
Notable Changes: Visitors will no longer be allowed to park in the crossroads or “square”. This change will keep the intersection clear of inappropriately parked vehicles, eliminate late night loitering, and stop after hours entry onto the Stronghold property. This change will also provide a needed staging area for all EMS vehicles during emergencies.
Park hours are from 8 a.m. to sunset. The front gate closes at 4 pm. If you are on the Stronghold property after sunset, you have overstayed your welcome. Please park only in designated spaces, no roadside parking is allowed. Vehicles parked on the property after sunset will be towed at the owner’s expense.
Directional traffic control spikes have been installed to prevent vehicles from traveling the wrong way up the mountain exit road. This change was made for the safety of our visitors and staff. Please pay special attention to all associated warning signs.
Security cameras have been installed in key locations on the Stronghold property. Photos will be captured of all vehicles that enter the Stronghold property, including tag numbers. If you witness any type of vandalism or otherwise criminal behavior on the Stronghold property, please report it to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and Stronghold Incorporated.
The Stronghold property will be open to the public under these conditions beginning on October 10th. Please enjoy the property respectfully.
For updates see https://sugarloafmd.com/.”
Sugarloaf Mountain is located south of the city of Frederick near the C&O Canal and the Potomac River. Geologically, Sugarloaf Mountain is known as a monadnock, a mountain that remains after the erosion of the surrounding land, and so rises alone above the landscape, not part of a mountain ridge. Sugarloaf has an elevation of 1,282 ft. and is covered by mature forest, with many rock formations on its slopes and at its summit. The land surrounding the mountain is mostly agricultural fields, with some second-growth stands of forest.
Sugarloaf Mountain is privately owned by Stronghold, Inc., founded in 1946 to protect and share Sugarloaf with the public. Hiking, birding, and other nature-oriented activities are welcomed here. There is a well-maintained trail system and also a road that loops through the mountain, making it possible to bird from the car.
Over 140 species have been reported on eBird from Sugarloaf Mountain. In the warm months, Sugraloaf is a good site for Eastern Screech-Owl, Brown Thrasher, Veery, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, and most woodpecker species. Common Ravens nest on the mountain. Breeding warblers include Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Parula ,and Worm-eating, Kentucky, and Black-and-white Warblers.
In spring and fall migration, Sugarloaf is good for many additional wood warblers, as well as Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Swainson’s Thrush, and Hermit Thrush. Rarely, Whip-poor-wills can be heard along Mount Ephraim Road in the spring.
The trails are natural surface and hilly, so are not wheelchair-accessible. But, given that there is a drive-able road that loops through Sugarloaf Mountain, this can be a great place for those who are mobility-impaired, since it is possible to bird from the car.
Dogs are allowed and must be kept on leash at all times.
Stronghold trustees are involved in a program to restore the once-plentiful American chestnut tree to the mountain. ◾ The historic Strong Mansion at the foot of the mountain can be rented for weddings and other events. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Frederick Bird Club, which hosts fields trips and meetings with informative presentations, all free and open to the public.
Designated parking areas are scattered along the road that winds across the mountain. Parking on roadsides is not allowed. Parking is no longer allowed at the crossroads or “square” by the entrance to the mountain.
Trailheads and restrooms are located at the parking areas. See Trail Map at link at left for locations.
Parking spaces are limited and may be full during the busy spring and fall seasons. Plan to arrive early; weekdays are less busy.
From I-270, take the Hyattstown exit; continue on MD Route 109 west to Comus; turn right onto Comus Road and continue to the Sugarloaf Mountain entrance at #7901.
Frederick County: Audrey Carroll Audubon Sanctuary ◾ C&O Canal – Mouth of Monocacy to Brunswick ◾ Catoctin Mountain Park ◾ Cunningham Falls State Park ◾ Fred J. Archibald Audubon Sanctuary ◾ Gambrill State Park ◾ Lilypons Water Gardens ◾ Seymour B. Cooper MOS Sanctuary
Features:BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Birding By CarFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHiking/Walking TrailsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsYoung People / Families
Type:Driving Tour (Roadside Birding)Private Sanctuaries and Preserves