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Spring on Sugarloaf Mountain (Smithsonian Associates)

May 21 @ 10:00 am - 1:30 pm EDT

Natural beauty and fascinating history await this spring. Spend a day hiking to the summit of Washington, D.C.’s local mountain, a natural treasure less than an hour’s drive from the city. The picturesque and rocky Sugarloaf offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside of Montgomery and Frederick counties in Maryland.

Guided by popular study leader Melanie Choukas-Bradley, learn about the mountain’s plants and wildlife, seasonal changes, geology, and history. Spend time on the summit, composed of pink quartzite and forested with uncommon table mountain pines and mountain laurel, for a light lunch and a bit of forest bathing.

In addition to the deep dive into the flora and fauna of our local monadnock, get insights into two remarkable preservation stories:

  • Gordon Strong’s lifelong mission to save Sugarloaf Mountain from development and keep it open for public enjoyment and education under the administration of Stronghold, a nonprofit corporation.
  • Montgomery County’s innovative 93,000-acre farmland preservation area known as the Agricultural Reserve.

Hikers also hear tales about how plans for Sugarloaf Mountain by two of the 20th century’s most formidable personalities, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Frank Lloyd Wright, were thwarted.

Choukas-Bradley spent 20 years living near the base of Sugarloaf in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve and has authored two books about the mountain: one about its trees and wildflowers, and the other Sugarloaf: The Mountain’s History, Geology and Natural Lore.

Know Before You Go

  • Tour participants meet on site at the West View parking lot, Sugarloaf Mountain Drive, Dickerson, Maryland.
  • Important Note: Tour participants must be in good physical condition to hike the steep trail to the summit, which includes a long set of stone steps. Total hike distance is less than 1 ½ miles, and many stops are made en route. Hiking shoes required.
  • Lunch is not included; please pack your own food to enjoy on the summit.
  • The tour is limited to 20 participants.

Additional Date Options for this Tour

General Information

  • Registration for this tour will end by 2 p.m. ET on Monday, May 20, 2024.
  • Smithsonian Associates is a mask-friendly environment. Please feel free to bring and wear a mask at any time during a tour, both for your safety or the safety of others.
  • For additional tour information:


May 21
10:00 am - 1:30 pm EDT


Smithsonian Associates
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