Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Here’s the perfect way to celebrate Christmas—hiking on Sugarloaf! Combine the views, the scenery, the company, the exercise, the weather, and the holiday cheer, and you end up with something special every year. With few bugs, fewer leaves (better views!), and fewest people, there’s no better place close to home to enjoy a natural Christmas. (Says the ghost of Christmas Natural.)
As a monadnock, Sugarloaf stands out from its surroundings, providing spectacular views in all directions from several cliff overlooks and offering some of the best hiking near the Capital area. The mountain is home to a wide variety of trees, wildflowers, and assorted critters. It has an interesting geology and a fascinating history, including being the site of a proposed presidential retreat (before Camp David).
Photos from our previous Sugarloaf Christmases:
The Hike: We’ll do a 9-mile circuit hike with about 3,300 ft. of elevation change (moderate or 3.2 blisters). There are some strenuous stretches and many ups and downs. This is not an easy hike.
What to Wear: You will need to dress for the weather, in layers so that some stuff can come off as you warm up hiking. Consider the wind chill in addition to the temperature, so an extra jacket or windbreaker is advised. Consider wearing ear covers, gloves, a hat, sunglasses, and a scarf or high collar. The trails are rocky and may be icy, so hiking boots are strongly recommended. Don’t forget your walking poles if you use them. Carrying an extra pair of socks is a good idea.
What to Bring: Bring two or more quarts of water, a bag lunch, and leftover holiday treats (especially homemade) to share. (Lunch is around 1 pm, so you may want to eat something before leaving home.) Bring binoculars and a camera if you like.
When & Where: We’ll meet at 10 am at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Kiss & Ride (http://goo.gl/Lvp6uQ). Parking at the trailhead is very limited, so carpooling is important.