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Winona, Sugar Loaf

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Air Pig S 
Amoeba Route S 
Buzz S 
East Face S 
Exterminator, The S 
First lead S 
Franklin's Tower S 
Green Room S 
Leftover Salmon S 
Lonely Arete S 
NW corner S 
One Eyed Lady S 
pillar, The S 
Ramp Route S 
Rope Thief S 
Running Scared S 
Saga, The S 
Sherriff, The S 
Six Pack S 
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Rotary Vista Trail
A multi-use trail that serves as a route up and down from the top of the bluffs in La Crosse. Near La Crosse, Wisconsin
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Winona, Sugar Loaf Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 1,058'
Location: 44.02836, -91.62665 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 12,993
Administrators: Kris Gorny, Chris treggE, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: EB on Jun 14, 2010  with updates from EB


91° | 67°

85° | 61°

71° | 51°

66° | 49°

67° | 46°
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Routes are to the left of the blue on the rock.


Sugar Loaf is an iconic place in Winona, MN. Sitting approx 600 ft above Winona, the Sugarloaf is a unique man-made tower; a result from quarrying in the 1800s. It offers routes on all aspects of the tower ranging from 5.3- 5.11 in difficulty. The majority of routes are in the 5.6-5.9 range. Currently 20 lead routes and a few additional top rope anchors with approx 8-12 more routes to be bolted. Most anchors have stainless steel wiregate biners at the anchors for easy TRing and cleaning. Almost all anchors are glue in bolts with the remaining expansion bolts slated to be removed by the end of 2017. There is a comprehensive trail plan approved by the city that will offer better access and develop the park as a designated rock climbing area. Routes are listed beginning on the NW corner and moving right from there around the formation.

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. ( this parking area will be moved to the north side of the bluff as soon as the new trail is developed). DO NOT hike up the large deep gully as you walk around the water tank! This is a horrible approach and is eroding the hillside with each new hiker. Walk another 40ft past it to a nice old "trail". Follow this to the top.

Climbing Season

For the All Locations area.

Weather station 0.6 miles from here

19 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',9],['2 Stars',9],['1 Star',1],['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'   
The Sherriff   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 50'   
Running Scared   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   
Rope Thief   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 55'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Winona, Sugar Loaf

Featured Route For Winona, Sugar Loaf
Rock Climbing Photo: RG starting up the Sherriff.

The Sherriff 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a  Minnesota : Winona, Sugar Loaf
The Sheriff was the first route bolted on the North Face and is one of the best routes on the Sugarloaf. The climb follows nice edges and flakes to a concave steep section that is passed by fun bear hug style sidepulling or you can bail left to make it easier....[more]   Browse More Classics in Minnesota

Photos of Winona, Sugar Loaf Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: north face route
north face route
Rock Climbing Photo: Rappel off the northern side
Rappel off the northern side
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 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, WI
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
From: Winona
Jul 1, 2017
There are currently 16 lead routes now on the sugarloaf with approx 12 more to go in this summer/fall. There are now some more challenging routes located on the North Face all of which have bolted belay anchors.
From: Winona
Aug 15, 2017
Route count up to 20 lead routes as of 8/17

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