If you’re feeling the urge to hit the slopes, Sugarloaf is the second highest peak in Maine. With over 138 trails, 1,400 acres of skiable terrain, and the ability to make snow for 95% of its trails, it’s no wonder that it’s considered one of the finer skiing destinations in the Northeast. The 2,820-foot continuous vertical drop is the longest in New England and allows for extended runs down the slopes. But, once you’ve finished one run, there won’t be a long wait for the next lift; Sugarloaf has 14 ski lifts with a capacity of 21,810 skiers an hour. That gives you more time to explore the 54 miles of trails within the park.
Sugarloaf isn’t limited to downhill skiing. A wide array of winter sports are available at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center, including more than 60 miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails and an Olympic-sized skating rink. Or course, if you need a break altogether, there’s the lodge itself with its spectacular views, health club and Internet access.
Save 10% by buying your lift tickets in advance online. Go here for details.
From the South (MA/NH)
Take the Maine Turnpike (I-95) to Auburn, Exit 75 (formerly 12), follow Route 4 North through Farmington, and then get on Route 27 North through Kingfield, straight to Sugarloaf. Or take I-95 North to Augusta, Exit 112B (formerly 31B), follow Route 27 North through Farmington and Kingfield, straight to Sugarloaf.
From the East (Calais and Maritimes, Bangor)
From Calais take Route 9 west to I-395 west to Bangor, to exit 1A onto I-95 south to Exit 39 at Newport, then Route 2 west to Skowhegan. Get on Route 201 north to Route 148 west through Madison, to Route 201A north to North Anson. Take a left onto Route 16 west to Kingfield, then Route 27 north to Sugarloaf.
For more information go to http://www.sugarloaf.com/index.html or call 1.800.THE LOAF.
Located in Newry, Sunday River has 132 trails across eight mountain peaks. The sister resort to Sugarloaf, Sunday River has been in operation since 1959 and now has over 660 acres of skiable terrain. With two slopeside hotels, there’s plenty of room to stay at the resort, or, if you prefer, the nearby town of Bethel, with its array of hotels, inns and bed & breakfasts, can easily accommodate most travelers. Bethel also has a number of high quality restaurants and bars, though with nine restaurants on the mountain, you’ll never have to go to town to get a quick lunch.
Visiting in the summer? The ski trails are taken over by golfers, hitting the links on what Golfweek magazine ranked as the number one course in Maine. And mountain bikers have the Sunday River Mountain Bike Park. Ski lifts take riders to the top of the mountain, where they have access to any number of routes to the bottom.
Sunday River offers free, no-obligation e-mail quotes to find you the best rate for your time period, or to help you choose when to come or where to stay. Go here to find out more.
Follow Rt. 2 East for 2.6 miles. Take a left onto Sunday River Road, marked by the large Sunday River Brewery (big building with red roof). Follow Sunday River Road to a fork with a “Sunday River Ski Resort” sign. Fork left and follow signs for the Grand Summit Hotel, base lodges, and amenities (1 mile). Fork right and follow signs for the Jordan Grand Resort Hotel (5 miles).
From Portland Jetport
Exit the Jetport and follow signs to I-95, the Main Turnpike. Take I-95 North to Exit 63 / Gray for Route 26. Take Route 26 North to Bethel. Follow Bethel directions above.
Take I-95 South to Exit 157/ Newport for Route 2. Follow Route 2 West to Sunday River Road, marked by the large Sunday River Brewery (big building with red roof), a few miles before reaching Bethel. Follow directions above.
Go to http://www.sundayriver.com/ or call 207.824.3000 to learn more.
With a skiable area of 440 acres, Saddleback Maine is Maine’s third largest ski resort. There are 66 runs, ranging from green to double black diamonds. In a tribute to local fishing tourism, all the trails are named after fishing flies created in nearby Rangeley, Maine, and all the lifts are named after popular fly fishing rivers. But don’t let the charm of local culture fool you. As the runs at Saddleback gain elevation on the mountain, they tend to become harder. The hardest section, the uppers, has had seven new trails cut since 2003, when new ownership took over.
If you’ve brought your little ones along for a family vacation, but they aren’t quite ready to hit the slopes on their own, consider using Saddleback’s on-site daycare. Available for ages from six weeks to six years, the staff is fully licensed and happy to help your children play, make art, or even, if they’re feeling brave, learn to ski. Reservations are required.
Don’t miss out on the annual Bluegrass Festival held every summer the same weekend as the Rangeley Sidewalk Art Show and Street Dance. It features live music, barbecue, beer gardens and a wine tasting.
From Points South
Take I-95 (Maine Turnpike) to Exit 75 in Auburn. Take Route 4 North through Farmington to Rangeley. Then follow the signs to Saddleback.
Take I-95 to Exit 44 in Portland. Follow I-295 to the Gardiner toll. Merge on I-95 and proceed to Exit 112B in Augusta. Follow directions below from Augusta.
Take Route 27 North to US 2 West. In Farmington, take Route 4 North to Rangeley and follow the signs to Saddleback.
Take I-95 South to Exit 157. Take US 2 West to Skowhegan and Farmington, and then follow Route 4 North to Rangeley. Then follow the signs to Saddleback.
For more information call 866.918.2225 (toll free) or go to http://www.saddlebackmaine.com/winter/
Sign up for day trips to Maine’s ski resorts with Mainely Ski & Ride. Check out their web site at www.mainelyskiandride.com.