Sugarloaf Mountain & Mad Science Brewing Company

Dickerson, Maryland

The very happy birthday boy!

This was a very special Hike & Hop edition because it was J’s birthday! In honor of my favorite hiking partner and lover of trees, I took him on a surprise little pre-hike outing. We went to see the biggest tree in Maryland! It’s in Dickerson Conservation Park just off the C&O canal. The largest tree is an American Sycamore that’s a whopping 138ft tall and 310 inches in circumference. However, the tree itself is a bit hard to get to. Park at Dickerson Conservation Park and the tree is only about ¼ mile away. Cross the towpath and follow the trail leading towards the river. It will turn right and follow along the river. The tree is to the right of the path and there is a big rock outcropping on the VA side of the river directly across from the tree. The day we visited, there had been huge rain storms so the river trail was extremely washed out. The tree was totally worth it though, it was simply massive! Definitely worth checking out! Want to know more about big trees in Maryland? Check out to see if there are any near you!

After trekking to find Maryland’s biggest tree, we decided to tackle Sugarloaf Mountain. We had been dying to come back here ever since doing a short hike with friends but the timing was never right. Weekends can get busy here, but aside from the main overlook point, the trails aren’t too busy. The best part of Sugarloaf? There’s a winery at the bottom of the mountain! And if you’re like me and beer is more your style, Mad Science Brewing is only a 10 minute drive away. And to round out your day, may I suggest Rocky Point Creamery in Tuscarora? This sounds like the perfect day to me so what are you waiting for?!

THE HIKE: Sugarloaf Mountain and Northern Peaks

From the Sugarloaf Mtn website with our route overlaid

Length: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1500ft
Difficulty: Hard
Time: 3- 3.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets
Parking: Large parking lots by trailhead. $5 suggested donation
H&H: 4/5

White Rocks Overlook

Sugarloaf Mountain is a very popular hiking area in Dickerson, Maryland. It is privately owned by the nonprofit Stronghold, Inc who maintains the park and event center. There is a suggested $5 fee to use the trails or you can get a yearly membership. This park is very popular so try to get there early (the park opens at 8). There’s a lot of parking but there can be a lot of traffic in and out of the lots. Just make sure you don’t start too late because the park closes at 6pm in the Spring/ Summer and at 4pm in the Fall/ Winter. Also be aware that there are no trash cans in the park! If you plan to have a picnic, make sure to pack out all of your trash. 

We don’t make it out to this area very often so we wanted to see the best the mountain has to offer. That meant tackling the Northern Peaks trail. This is a ~7 mile loop that incorporates the main peak, as well as the White Rocks overlook. This trail was really rocky with a lot of elevation changes so I consider it difficult. The final assent to the top of Sugarloaf really pushed us to our limits! The view was so worth it though. Extra water, snacks, and hiking boots are all essential for this hike. 

Very rocky trail

I really liked this hike and the views were incredible. Nothing beats this area of Maryland for hills and views! My only complaint was how busy the trail was. There were so many people, a lot of whom were clearly ill prepared for a hard hike. We noticed a lot of trash along the trail, including Starbucks cups?! Hiking pro tip: bring old grocery bags to pick up trash along the trail, every bit helps! Anyway, I’m really glad we did this hike, I just wish we could have gone during the week.

THE BEER: Mad Science Brewing Company

Address: 1619 Buckeystown Pike, Adamstown, MD 21710
Distance from Trail Head: 7.6 miles, 11 mins
Food?: Food Trucks and BYO
H&H Rating: 4/5

Mad Science Brewing Company opened in 2013 as part of Thanksgiving Farms and Market in Adamstown. Even without the brewery, the farm is worth a visit for its huge variety of plants, eclectic gifts and home grown produce. Thanksgiving Farms prides themselves on their “We Grow Our Own” attitude and that extends to the brewery too! Every batch of beer is made with farm fresh ingredients and they currently have around 240 hop plants grown onsite.

Thanksgiving Farms is really quirky and I loved it. Everything is brightly colored and it just made me happy. I could have spent hours looking through the market and plants but there was beer to be had! The brewery is only open on weekends 11-5pm so make sure to plan accordingly! We rolled in after our hike and were pleased to see a full house with a bluegrass band playing. Nothing I like more than sipping a malty beer and listening to Avett Brothers covers, can you say Heaven? I went straight for the festbier (very predictable) while J opted for the Human Harvester, which was made with all freshly harvested hops from the farm. Everything we had at Mad Science was a solid beer, but my favorite was the Antidote #1. I really love a refreshing Pale Ale! And of course we had to try the barrel-aged scotch ale. Thank goodness we only got a small pour, this packed a punch! Overall, we really had a great time at Mad Science. My only complaint was the early closing time!

Our Beer:

  • Special Relativity – Festbier – 5.3%
  • Human Harvester – American IPA – 6.8% 
  • C. Hopulinum – American IPA – 6.4%
  • Antidote #1 – Pale Ale – 5.3%
  • Barrel-Aged Wheezy – Scotch Ale – 7.3%

SUM UP: Sugarloaf Mountain is a very popular hiking spot in Dickerson Maryland. It is owned by the Stronghold Inc and there is a suggested $5 fee to enter. There is lots of parking but the roads can get rather backed up on the weekends so plan accordingly. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trails, but be aware that there are no trash cans so all trash must be packed out. The trail itself is very rocky with some steep inclines but the views are worth it! After your hike, check out Mad Science Brewing at Thanksgiving Farms for unique brews with a focus on hop-forward flavors. Before heading home for the evening, grab a sweet treat from Rocky Point Creamery and watch the sunset from the parking lot. Hike + Beer + Ice Cream = Day Made!

View from Sugarloaf Mountain overlook
The big tree!