Backpacking
Now Reading
Sugar Loaf Mountain – Denali Alaska
1
Overview
Location

Denali, Alaska

Sights

Tundra, vast landscapes, wildlife, Sugar Loaf

Distance

About 4.2 miles round trip.

Parking Lot Elevation

1957 ft

Summit Elevation

4674 ft

Elevation Gain/Loss

2717 ft

Time Required

4-6 hours

Pets

Allowed

Fees

None

Water Info

Bring 2-4 liters of water

Best Season

Summer

Hours

N/A

Sun Exposure

Little to no shade once you reach the timberline.

Trail Condition

Clear for the most part.

Restrooms

None

Visitor Center

None

Camping

Allowed

Food

Bring snacks and a meal depending on how far you plan to hike.

Equipment

Good hiking shoes, hat, sunglasses, bag for water and food, bear spray

GPS Coordinates

Trailhead: 63.744183°, -148.887867°
Sugar Loaf Mountain: 63.753442°, -148.832489°

Trail Map:

Driving Directions:

The Trail:

Sugar Loaf Name Side Note: 

Since this mountain doesn’t have a name established by the USGS, I will still call it Sugar Loaf to keep with the tradition.

——————————————–

I’ve compiled pictures from several different trips for this updated Trek.

The Sugar Loaf Mountain Trail is one of my favorites in Denali.  The reason why I like this hike so much is because of its diversity in scenery.  You will be begin hiking in thick brush on steep terrain.  Then you will quickly gain even more altitude and enter on treeless tundra and finish your ascent to the top of the mountain.  It is very steep but really not more than 4 miles so if you have the strength and stamina you can complete this whole hike in less than a few hours.

The trailhead for Sugar Loaf Mountain is best accessed by driving up to the Denali Grande Hotel and parking at the northern most part of the parking lot.  You will see a large cairn of rocks that someone piled together – this is the start of the trail.  This is where the hotel usually puts their dumpster too. 

Sugar Loaf Trailhead

Sugar Loaf Trailhead

Sugarloaf Mountain

The picture above is the view from the Denali Grande Hotel looking down at Glitter Gulch (the name of all the shops and hotels near the Denali National Park entrance).  Sugar Loaf is a popular trail for seasonal employees and the locals in the Healy and Denali areas.  This hike is steep and a little rough but the views it offers are incredible!

The trail begins in a dense forest on a narrow trail.  This is moose and bear habitat so please make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all time.

The trail is very steep in parts

The trail is very steep in parts

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

It is good to remember you will be gaining roughly 2600 feet in elevation from the start to finish so you will need to take your time so you don’t wear yourself out during the first 1/2 mile.

Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain

There is a good dirt and rocky trail for the entire length of the hike up until the very last climb to the summit.  Here you can see one of my friends making her way up.  This is where the first clearing of rocks is located.  After this location the trees are more sparse.
Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain

Once you reach the top of the timberline you will be soon see meadows of flowers and more beautiful tundra terrain.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

There were tons of wild flowers on this hike!Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Here you can see Sugar loaf in the middle center of the picture below.  This hike really isn’t that long of a hike.  It is just about the same length as the Mt. Healy Overlook Trail on the other side of the canyon.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Looking towards the town of Healy.

Sugarloaf Mountain

The trail follows the spine all the way to the summit.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugar Loaf Mountain

The trail becomes hard to see in some spots but you can still see a trodden path where previous hikers came by.

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Even though it looks like the summit is still miles away, it really isn’t that much farther.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Meadows of yellow flowers.  

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

More purple flowers.Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

The picture below is looking towards Mt. Healy.  Mt. Healy is an equally amazing hike and one I would recommend doing if you have the time.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Looking back down the trail that we just came up.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

It is about in this area where the trail disappeared for about 50 yards.  But as long as you continue to follow the spine of the mountains you will get to the summit.  If you are hiking in the valleys then you got off the trail somehow.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugar Loaf Mountain Sugar Loaf MountainSugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Once we got up passed the tundra we were hiking on gravel and large rocks.  This was a very steep area and we made sure to go even slower to be safe.

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Looking into the northern valley (Iceworm gulch)

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Almost to the top…

Sugar Loaf Mountain Sugarloaf Mountain

Finally at the top!  There were yellow and white flowers waiting for us as we arrived at the summit.  You could easily continue hiking along the mountain ridge leading you to another adventure.  I was very surprised because the top of Sugar Loaf was fairly flat and was unassuming – but still we got an incredible view!

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

At the summit there was a very tame ground squirrel that was waiting for us to drop some chips or jollyranchers, but we knew better!

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Looking back down to the seasonal town of Denali.  You can see in the picture below the spine of the mountains that we climbed to get to the top.  It was amazing how much we could see.  If it was a clear day we could certainly see Denali to the west and all the Alaska Range to the east.

Here is the unassuming summit.

Here is the unassuming summit.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Looking down where  Kingfisher Creek begins. Sugarloaf Mountain

On the way back down we found a few hoary marmots hanging out on some rock.  We tried to get them on camera but they were a little shy it seemed..

Sugarloaf Mountain

You can see several hotels in the pictures below including all of the shops and touristy stuff.  You can also see the Alaska Railroad tracks cutting a giant line in the scenery.

Sugar Loaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain

The Return:

Head back down the same way.

Personal Thoughts:

Sugar Loaf, even though it is still pretty close to all the shops and hotels of Denali, offers you an amazing hike to one of the tall secluded peaks in the area.  It is a popular trail but you could hike all day on it and probably not see another person traversing to the top.  It would be really fun to hike to the top of Sugar Loaf and continue hiking for days and days following the mountain spine!

Trek Planner Logo

Ratings (out of 10)
Trek Planner Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Difficulty
5.6
7.7
Technicality
4.0
4.0
Enjoyment
7.0
8.6
The Bottom Line

Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek.  If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

7.5
Trek Planner Rating
6.8
User Rating
2 ratings
You have rated this
What's your reaction?
Love It
86%
Interesting
14%
Nice!
0%
Silly
0%
Meh...
0%
Booo!
0%
About The Author
Jeff Johnson
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you! JeffTJohnson@ymail.com

Leave a Reply

1 Comment on "Sugar Loaf Mountain – Denali Alaska"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
N Godfrey
Guest

I feel the rating is a bit hard. It is rated higher than that of Mt. Healy which is much harder and more technical. Take the rating with a grain of salt. This is a moderate difficulty climb at most.