Little-Known New England Ski Gems

Sugarloaf/USA
By Theodore Nusbaum
  |  Gorp.com
Shredding at Sugarloaf
Shredding at Sugarloaf

Sugarloaf is Maine's second highest peak next to Mount Katahdin (5,280 ft.) and rises from 1,400 to 4,237 feet, giving skiers and riders 2,820 feet of continuous vertical to play with. Sugarloaf has the only above tree-line skiing and riding in the East, "The Snowfields," and sits immovable against the Maine skyline like a barrel-chested bully. In operation for 50 years, Sugarloaf is an original with loyal families who navigate the Maine wilderness weekly to reach the object of their adoration.

With 240 inches of annual snowfall, Sugarloaf has enough of the white stuff to keep the mountain fun. Many of the runs are great for consistent, nonstop skiing from top to bottom, with few intersections and varying pitches with rolls and lips. The absence of crowds and the presence of views on a clear day will keep you smiling well into evening. Even if you choose not to ski the Snowfields (and you shouldn't if you aren't an expert), you can hike the summit and take in the scenery.

Take the Timberline Quad and pick your way over ice and snow to the rocky summit. You're likely to see Krumholtz trees (meaning "bent wood" in German), stunted in their growth by the climate and caked in snow and ice. Below the Snowfields, should you desire some steeps and a narrow patch of glades, hit "Upper Bubblecuffer" to get your adrenaline pumping. For the tamer set, a great fast and open run from top to bottom begins above the King Pine lift with "Ramdown" to "Upper Whiffletree" and down to the Whiffletree Superquad.

Sugarloaf is a self-contained ski area complete with bus system, restaurants, apres ski, condominiums, shops—the works. It offers 126 trails and 15 lifts, including two high-speed Superquads. The resort is well-designed, convenient, and accessible for the whole family. Programs for children abound, including movie nights and sleigh rides during the major holiday breaks. You can even dump the little critters off at child care so that you and your honey can rip it up for a while. Travel time from New York City costs you anywhere from eight to nine hours (4 from Boston), depending on the weather and your blatant disregard for state troopers.


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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