Sugar Knob Cabin Turns 100 Years Old

By Glen Tsaparas


Sugar Knob Cabin in approximately the late 1920s. If you look carefully, you can see that mature trees are absent, due to all the historical logging. Only stunted saplings commonly referred to as “Dog Hair” growth are visible up to the horizon.
(Photo Credit: Glen Tsaparas)


In 1911, the “Weeks Act” (aka the “Organic Act”) was passed by Congress. The legislation is named after Representative John Weeks. The act called for restoring and protecting millions of acres of land devastated by intense logging and fires which resulted in soil loss and flooding in valleys along these “lands that nobody wanted”. The aforementioned lands would be protected in newly established National Forests in the eastern U.S., to date totaling more than 20 million acres.

One of these national forests was the Shenandoah National Forest, established in 1918. It was renamed the George Washington National Forest in 1932. The region in this forest was heavily logged to provide wood for the numerous pig iron furnaces in the region. What was not logged for the furnaces was logged for the small-town lumber mills.  

Located in the Great North Mountain area of George Washington National Forest northeast of Wolf Gap, Sugar Knob Cabin was built in 1920 for ranger use in support of two fire towers in the area: Halfmoon Lookout and Paddy Mountain Lookout.  At one time, the cabin sat underneath the tower supports of another fire watch structure. Eventually the use of the lookouts was discontinued due to the demands of World War II and the recovery of the forest. In time, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club took over maintaining Sugar Knob as a rental cabin.

Sugar Knob is a small stone cabin. Only 10’x10’ in size, it houses 4 fold-down bunks and a wood stove along with the bare essentials, consisting of pots, pans, plates, utensils, wood maul, saw and mattresses. Sugar Knob can sleep 4 persons max.  It is a warm cabin in winter as its size makes it easy to heat. A little over 3.5 miles hike into a remote area at near 3000’, weather can be severe in late fall through early spring.  Be prepared with back-country backpacking skills. Take a trip to Sugar Knob and enjoy the remote setting, and please be sure to treat the cabin with care so that it may last another 100 years!

Sugar Knob Cabin in modern day
(Photo Credit: Ann Gallagher)