Little-Known New England Ski Gems
|Sunday River's winter wonderland|
Eight interconnected mountains with 127 trails make up this behemoth of a ski resort. There is something for everyone here: wide-open groomers, steeps, glades, a new terrain park, and a 500-foot in-ground half-pipe for those who like to air it out. Sundance Learning Area at the base of Barker Mountain provides ample opportunity for novices to develop their skills. Because of its size, the resort remains uncrowdedeven on a six-inch powder day the lines were nonexistent (although regrettably, most of the fresh snow was groomed out before morning).
Sunday River is like Einstein's vision of the universeit keeps expanding. Returning the trail map to your parka pocket is a perplexing exercise in map folding. But the sheer horizontal of the resortstretching three miles end to endis reason enough to explore each peak for that perfect run to suit your style, skill level, and personal taste. I recommend spending an entire day working your way across all seven peaks and making mental (or real) notes about which runs to return to for further exploration.
NOTE: Be careful of getting caught over at Jordan Peak after 3 p.m. because there's no easy way back to the base area. You can ski far left and down to the Jordan Grand Resort Hotel, but shuttles here run every 20 to 30 minutes (plus another 20 minutes back to the base), so it's better to start back earlier to avoid the encroaching winter night.
Sunday River does possess certain natural advantages because it's in Maine. The drive up scenic Route 2 is thick with old-growth forest and the occasional snow-covered, beard-wearing, scraggily shorn hitchhiker (I urge you to avoid this fellow should you encounter him mid-blizzard, as we did). Secondly, the quaint town of Bethel is just down the road serving up fresh lobster and shopping for those who want a day to rest the legs and recuperate. Travel time is seven hours of driving from New York City and three from Boston (not including stops to interrogate emaciated hitchhikers).
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication