Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Guide – Big Bear
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||12 miles (19.3 km)|
|Hike Time||5-7 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||3,360 feet (1024m)|
|Highest Elevation||9,952 feet (3033m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||San Bernardino National Forest|
|Weather & Forecast||Latest Conditions|
|Stay Safe||Copy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.|
Although Sugarloaf Mountain, at 9952 feet, is the highest point in Big Bear Valley, this mountain peak is often overlooked by hikers today. That’s good news for you because the Sugarloaf Mountain Trail is rarely crowded, offers a good climb with excellent views, an old-growth forest, and another peak to add to your list. And while the summit doesn’t have a viewpoint, you do get some of the best panoramas of the San Bernardino high peaks along the way.
Where is Sugarloaf Mountain Trail?
Sugarloaf Trail is set back from the paved road by about a mile or so, up a rocky Forest Service road which is tough on most cars. So the safe bet is to park just off the (paved) Rt-38 at the beginning of the Forest Service Road 2N93, and then walk up the road to the official start of the trail.
There’s not an address for the parking area, so use this lat/lon: 34.231438, -116.806414
Gear For the Hike
- This is a mountain hike so bring clothing and a shell for changing conditions.
- I bring 3L of water which is on the conservative side.
- Trekking poles will help on the steep sections.
- In the winter the trail can be covered and ice and snow. If you’re familiar with the trail already, it’s best not to do the hike in those conditions.
Garmin InReach Mini 2
I’m a firm believer in carrying a satellite communications device which works where cell phones don’t. I use a Garmin InReach which lets me send text messages back and forth to my family to let them know that I’m okay or if my plans change when I’m out in the backcountry. It also has an SOS subscription built-in so that you can reach first-responders in an emergency. The devices also offer weather reports, GPS, and navigation functionality (what’s the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator?). For a few hundred bucks they could save your life, so for me it’s a no brainer to have something like a Garmin InReach. If you use a smartphone to navigate and want a more affordable option that integrates with your phone easily, check out the ZOLEO.
Latest Prices: Amazon | REI
Altra Lone Peak 6
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. I have a video on the details of the Altra Lone Peak 6 here.
Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.
Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon
Z-Poles: REI | Amazon
Gregory Zulu 30 & Jade 28
After testing quite a few backpacks, the Gregory Zulu 30 (and Jade 28 for women) is, for most hikers, the best all-season day-pack. First off, it’s very comfortable, and the mesh “trampoline” back keeps your back dry. Its 30L capacity is enough for all the essentials and plenty of layers for winter hiking. External pockets make it easy to grab gear. It’s hard to find something wrong with the pack; if anything, it could be a bit lighter, but overall, it’s not heavy. And its price-point makes it not only affordable but generally a great value.
Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated May 2022.
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Maps
One of the neat things about this hike is that once you leave the Forest Service Road, you are actually on the Sugarloaf National Recreation Trail (NRT). NRT Trails are part of the National Trails System Act of 1968, the same one that created the (official) PCT and AT. You can read a more about the history of the NRT trail system in my guide to the Gabrielino NRT.
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
Here’s what I use. If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Sugarloaf Mountain Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
Wildhorse Meadow, where this road goes, was named after World War 1 when the US Cavalry realized that modern warfare made fighting on horseback obsolete. They decided to let their horses go, and the herd settled in the meadow southeast of Sugarloaf Mountain.
What’s the triangular marker at the summit?
This guide last updated on April 21, 2022. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.