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Sugarloaf Mountain Hike

Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Guide – Big Bear

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the Sugarloaf Mountain Trail
  • How to Get the Start of the Sugarloaf Mountain Trail
  • Gear, Tips, and Recommendations for the Hike
Total Distance (?)12 miles (19.3 km)
Hike Time5-7 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Hard
Total Ascent (?)3,360 feet (1024m)
Highest Elevation9,952 feet (3033m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)San Bernardino National Forest
Park Phone909-382-2790

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

Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 4
There are some wide shoulder areas when you first pull onto the dirt road where you can park. Pull off the side of the road so that you don’t block other traffic.

Gear For the Hike

Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 2
The trail is very rocky. A shoe with a thicker or stronger sole will do well here. Some of the upper sections are 100% small rocks.

Lone Peak 5

Altra Lone Peak 5
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. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.

Latest Price on Women’s ShoeREI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s ShoeREI | Amazon

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

Stay Safe Out of Cell Phone Range
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Garmin InReach Mini (REI | Amazon | My Review) fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing.

Gaiagps

Gaia GPS Mapping App
Smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS onboard. So I recommend getting a good GPS hiking app like Gaia GPS that supports offline maps. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. GaiaGPS not only has smartphone and tablet apps, but also an online planning tool. You can drag the GPX hike tracks from my (or any) guides into the online map and they will sync to your phone. 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.

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated September 2021.

My September 2021 Top Gear Picks

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.

Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 1
You’ll see some old trail signs, but otherwise the trail is largely unmarked.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 3
On the upper elevations you’ll see these old-school notch trail markers in the trees. Follow the notches and you’ll be good.
Click Here To View

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.

Fenix 6 Pro

How are you going to navigate this hike?
To start, you should always have a paper map and compass. And it helps to print this guide out or save it on your phone. I highly recommend a GPS as well. I use the Garmin Fenix 6 Smart GPS watch ( REI | Amazon | My Review) with maps (or the more affordable Garmin Instinct). The GPS smartwatch is nice because it’s rugged, works if your phone dies, and also has a billion other features like sleep tracking, workout recording, etc.

Elevation Profile

Sugarloaf Mountain Hike Elevation
As you might have guessed, you’re going to be climbing to reach Sugarloaf Mountain. The trail is consistently uphill until the end, where you have a short downhill before climbing again. The undulations near the top create a few false summits.

3D Map

Sugarloaf Mountain Hike 3d Map
Once you leave the Forest Service road, the Sugarloaf Trail takes you up Green Canyon to the ridge, which you then follow up to the Sugarloaf summit.

Sugarloaf Mountain Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Watch This Video In 360/VR Why 360/VR Is Great

Turn by Turn Directions

Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 5
Go straight up road 2N93, also known as Wildhorse Meadow Road, from the parking area. On the left is 2N93B; don’t get confused.

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.

Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 6
Keep going straight on 2N93. There are a few turn-offs to picnic areas.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 7
2N27 splits off to the right, bear left to continue on 2N93.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 8
The road dips down and loops to the left.
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And soon you’ll see the official trailhead parking area and sign. If you want to shave some miles off and have a high-clearance vehicle, you can also just drive here and park.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 10
Just past the last sign, look for the turn to the right. This is the official start of the Sugarloaf National Recreation Trail.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 11
Hike through the gate. No more motorized vehicles past here.
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Right after the start is this unique rock formation, and I’m just showing it to you because it’s cool. There are several abandoned mines off the route of this hike.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 13
The hike up Green Canyon is, well, green. Enjoy the old-growth forest and small stream crossings as it winds up along Green Creek.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 14
Soon the trail gets steeper, wider, and rockier. Before this was designated as a National Recreation Trail, it was open to 4WD vehicles.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 15
Go straight over the log. There’s a small trail back to the left, which is the abandoned 2N92 road, now largely overgrown.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 16
At the top of the climb the trail levels out.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 17
And soon you’ll come to an intersection. Make the hard right to continue up the ridge to Sugarloaf Mountain.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 18
You can see the old NRT marker on the trail sign here.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 19
As soon as you make the last turn, look off to the left for an incredible view of San Gorgonio Mountain. You’ll get more of these views in a mile or so.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 20
The trail is uphill but not as steep as the last section.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 21
And you’ll wind through some lodgepole pines and shaded areas.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 22
The flat sections are periodically interrupted by short, steep climbs.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 23
You crest a high point by some exposed rock, the first of the false summits. And that bump in the distance is another false summit.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 24
As you follow the ridge you’ll get more great views of the high peaks in San Gorgonio Wilderness.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 25
There are no trail signs, just notches, except for this old NRT marker getting overtaken by bark.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 26
You crest another false summit (Peak 9775) and the trail levels out.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 27
And then you have a short descent to a saddle The bump in the distance is another false summit, but a closer one.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 28
After descending to the saddle, you’ll climb again towards the real Sugarloaf Mountain summit.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 29
Catch you last nice views of the high peaks.
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The trail levels off and you hike through some gnarled and twisted pines and junipers.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 31
And then the summit appears. There are no views here, but there are lots of trees and a peaceful vibe.

What’s the triangular marker at the summit?

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There are several markers at the summit. The summit register usually sits in the rock pile by the survey marker.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail Directions 33
From here, just go back the way you came. Remember that you have a small climb pack up to Peak 9775 (behind me here).

This guide last updated on September 8, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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