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Winona, Sugar Loaf

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Franklin's Tower S 

Winona, Sugar Loaf Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 1,200'
Location: 44.02836, -91.62665 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 7,621
Administrators: Kris Gorny, Chris treggE, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Frank Hessler on Jun 14, 2010
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Routes are to the left of the blue on the rock.


Sugar Loaf is an iconic place in Winona, MN. It is lit up at night all year round so you can see it for miles. It can be crowded some days but this is mostly due to local foot traffic. Most people that go up to Sugar Loaf are not there to climb.

All climbs are relatively short needing 3 or less quick draws.

As of now, Sugar Loaf has 8 anchor points.

3 on the West side (to the left as you approach)

1 on the North Face, accessible by climbing the front most route on the West side and traversing around.

2 on the South side (one you have posted, the other is a short traverse to the left)

2 short routes on the East Side, one on the point that can be rigged to go out over the North Face

Getting There 

At the intersection of Mankato Ave and Highway 61 in Winona, head south on 43 to a quick right hand turn to E Lake Blvd to a quick left on Sugar Loaf Road, next take a left on W Burns Valley Road, go past fire hydrant on the right side of the road and there are steps that lead to a water tank. Go up around the water tank on the right hand side. There is one approach that goes straight up a class 4 scramble or 30 feet past that is the easier approach which is a trail leading to the top.

Climbing Season

For the All Locations area.

Weather station 0.6 miles from here

1 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',0],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Winona, Sugar Loaf

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Winona, Sugar Loaf:
Franklin's Tower   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 45'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Winona, Sugar Loaf

Featured Route For Winona, Sugar Loaf
Rock Climbing Photo: Clip the low bolt and proceed to each thereafter u...

Franklin's Tower 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b  MN : Winona, Sugar Loaf
There are a lot of good holds for hands and really good feet for most of the route. ...[more]   Browse More Classics in MN

Photos of Winona, Sugar Loaf Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Standing on top of the Sugar Loaf!
Standing on top of the Sugar Loaf!

Comments on Winona, Sugar Loaf Add Comment
Show which comments
By S. Stember
From: St. Paul, MN
Aug 24, 2012
who has more information about this place? how many routes are there?
By JimmyHann
From: Rapid City
Nov 26, 2012
There are 5 sets of bolted anchors and 2 lead routes (3 if you decide to link up from right to left). Routes range from 5.4-5.9 depending how you choose to climb them. The climbing here is not the best quality if you are an experienced climber looking to sport climb. Nonetheless if you are new to climbing and looking to experience top rope climbing outside this is a great destination, and the view is spectacular.

The 3 left most anchors can be easily free soloed (5.4ish) by an experienced climber to set TRs. The right 2 anchors can be lead or you can scramble up the backside (fith class)to set TRs.

The Winona State University Outdoor Education & Recreation Center makes regular use of the sugar loaf during the school year.
By Todd Johnson
Oct 25, 2013
I used to climb here 25 years ago. I put some of the bolts at the top for anchors. Before I climbed there there were some very old 1/4 inch bolts I heard the ROTC put in for directional anchors. There used to be an anchor spike in the top of the rock. Most of the rock is very poor quality but the corner had some short fun routes. We did put 3 routes on what we called the front face. They were very intense. We used to identify around 10 routes on the back corner. They were mostly variations of lines. The hardest lines were highball boulder problems.
By Jay Harrison
Oct 27, 2014
My wife and I, still wet behind our ears in 1983, saw this formation and thought we were getting close to Devil's Tower! After assuring ourselves that Minnesota was a bit too wide for that, we took every turn leading toward the tower in sight, finally making it to Winona.
I recall soloing some peculiar, 3' deep, but only 6" thick, megashelves on the way up to the promontory. My wife chose a more sensible path. At the base of the tower, two guys were installing the lights that have since highlighted the formation. I think it was for the town's centennial celebration, but I'm not sure. It was close to 4th of July as well, so it may have been that. It was my first paid climbing gig: they wanted to head down for lunch and paid us to "hang out" and keep an eye on the equipment.
I climbed up an easy line and then TR'd a harder one (~5.7). The guys returned and we headed down to look for a place to camp. Found a little ice cream shack that made the best malted milkshakes we've ever had.
While we cont'd on our journey and had many amazing times out West, I still remember this tower and the little town below as equally enjoyable and amazing.
By Joel Allen
From: La Crosse
Aug 12, 2015
Pretty chossy. Not worth going way out of the way for this thing but if you are already in the area it's fun to go sit on top of the tower and eat lunch/hangout/take pictures. Plus all the people hiking look at you like you're crazy which is always fun.
From: Winona
Oct 5, 2015
The sugarloaf has been getting a facelift in the last few months with a number of new top anchors being installed as well as new lead lines. There are now 7 lead routes on the formation and 16 top anchors. New anchors on the summit make for an easy rappel.
More routes are being added this fall. Granted the climbing is pretty easy, this is one of the better places to learn beginner to intermediate skills and the top is pretty cool!
By thomas michael
Mar 19, 2016
I am a very new rock climber and would like to climb this rock in June. What is the easiest way up to the top? Can I do it alone? Do I need ropes? Thank you

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