Majestic Coastline and Fantastic Round Trip Skiing in Maine
Skiing in Maine should be in your wish list, if it has not done so. When you hear about Maine, the first thing that comes to mind is delicious lobsters and lighthouses.
The state of Maine in the US has the most abundant lobster harvest in the country. Most people will be surprised to know that Maine has something up its sleeve for skiers and winter sports lovers! As you drive up the coastline and head towards the mountains, you will find top-rated Maine ski resorts, particularly on the East and Northeastern ski towns. These offer thousands of acres of powder.
Let’s take a look at what Maine has to offer for skiers looking for a short skiing trip in the lobster capital of the United States.
1. Sugarloaf Ski Resort
Sugarloaf is considered as one of the most popular and the largest of all Maine ski resorts. Owned by Boyne USA, Sugarloaf has plenty of skiing options for all skill levels.
It also has different winter activities for families to enjoy. What makes this resort stand out from the rest is its above treeline skiing area located towards the eastern side of the resort.
Sugarloaf has a vertical drop of 2,820 feet, and a height of 4,237 feet. This makes it the tallest winter resort in the state and the second-highest peak in Maine.
If you are looking for accommodations, the nearest options would be the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel and the Sugarloaf Inn. The former is a bit priced higher than the latter, but both are just a two-minute walk from the resort.
Snowfields: A Challenging Terrain
Sugarloaf has a variety of skiable terrains that suit different experience levels. From wobbly novice first-timers to expert powder hounds. Despite being a considerably small resort when compared with other Maine ski resorts, Sugarloaf does offer some decent expert level skiing.
Sugarloaf is home to Snowfields, a popular thigh-burning black diamond trail. If you’re an expert skier or snowboarder, thrilling experience awaits you.
The boundary-to-boundary policy at Sugarloaf allows snowboarders and skiers to enjoy the fresh powder anywhere within the 1,400 acres boundary of the resort. Not to mention that it has just opened Burnt Mountain Cat Skiing. This provides snowboarders and skiers access to Sugarloaf's most remote terrain via snow cat.
First Timers and Intermediate Skiers
First-timers can practice at the specially designated skiing area before they decide to hop on the chairlift and head to the blue marked intermediate terrain.
Activities in Which You Don’t Need Skies to Have Fun
Sugarloaf offers plenty of non-skiing activities for kids, and everyone else who wants more than just skiing. Head to the Sugarloaf Sports and Fitness Center near the entrance and take a tip in the hot tubs, go for a swim in the pool, or work out in the weight room. In addition, you can get a perfect tan, or just enjoy the racquetball court.
If you’re looking for some more non-skiing fun and adventure, visit the Antigravity Recreational Complex or A.G.C. Here, you can climb an indoor wall, and enjoy ice skating at the Outdoor Center, which has a massive Olympic sized staking rink complete with music and lights.
2. Sunday River
It comes as a surprise that Sunday River and Sugarloaf have had bitter sibling rivalry in the past. However, Boyne USA now owns both resorts, putting an end to the rivalry.
With a total summit elevation of 3,140 feet, the Sunday River ski resort is not as tall as Sugarloaf. But it makes up for its height by offering 668 acres of skiable terrain, 138 trails connected by 16 lifts for different levels of skiers and snowboarders, which makes a top-ranking skiing destination among Maine ski resorts.
Similarly, you can find accommodations that will cater to your budget and needs. The Grand Summit Hotel and the River View Resort are within 3-kilometer radius from the resort.
Challenging Expert Terrain
If you’re an expert skier looking towards a true Maine skiing experience in Sunday River, then your best option is to head for the expert trails at White Cap Peak with steep pistes and glade skiing area.
The double diamond expert trail called White Heat trial is nestled near the summit. For some, the White Heat trail is one of the best pistes for expert skiing among other Maine ski resorts.
The black diamond trail Right Stuff on Baker Mountain is an expert skiers’ favorite trail. Once you’ve conquered these slopes, then head to the magnificent Oz where open powder-filled natural trails await you! Enjoy the five double diamond trails at Oz.
If you still aren’t done skiing, head to the Locke Mountain with nine black diamond trails for a true thigh-burning experience.
Skiable Terrain for Beginners and Intermediate Skiers
Sunday River is an ideal destination for first timers among the Maine ski resorts on this list! Wonderland Park has a mini pipe and rollers for kids and people who need a little practice before they try their luck on the blue intermediate trails.
Intermediate skiers will love the cruise worthy powdery pistes of the Spruce Peak, Risky Business, and American Express.
What to Do When You Are Not Skiing?
For other fun-filled non-skiing activities, try the traditional Maine maple syrup and Sunday River Sugaring House on the South Ridge.
Where else would you get to taste the candy and maple syrup among Maine ski resorts? If you have kids, make sure to take them dog sledding with the wonderfully friendly huskies of Mahoosuc Guide Service.
3. Shawnee Peak
A perfect skiing destination for families, Shawnee Peak does have a decent skiing experience for a small resort. It is a family-owned resort, which makes this tiny resort stand out from other Maine ski resorts.
The Homer Family purchased Shawnee Peak in 1994. Since then, the resort has seen some considerable improvements. In fact, Shawnee Peak has been operational for over 75 years, making it the longest operational mountain resort in Maine.
You may want to check out Grady's West Shore or the Noble House Inn if you are looking to stay longer.
Skiing Options at Shawnee Peak
Shawnee Peak is a small resort but despite its size, it does have a skiable terrain of 239 acres with 43 runs in total. The resort is ideal for first timers and families, with 25% of the trails marked green for beginners and 45% for intermediate runs. Here you can find plenty of groomed areas that are perfect for cruising.
Overall, it’s an ideal resort for families and those who want to learn or perfect their skiing skills. Expert skiers can enjoy the limited black diamond and double black diamond slopes. The terrain for experts is considerably limited so don’t expect much from Shawnee Peak in terms of thigh-burning glade skiing.
Night Skiing Option
Shawnee Peak shines bright the whole day! It’s the only resort that offers skiers a chance to continue skiing way through the night. This is due to its state-of-the-art lighting that makes night skiing a breeze.
Saddleback was a popular skiing destination among the several Maine ski resorts. Unfortunately, since 2015, the resort has not held a single ski season as the resort continues to remain closed despite popular public demand. It is located at the Sandy River Plantation near Rangeley, Maine.
Saddleback was the third largest ski resort in Maine with a 4,120 feet summit. The resort had 66 trails, with five lifts and snowmaking machines that covered large areas of the resort with fresh snow. Saddleback was a classic American ski resort with old-fashioned New England skiing. The resort offers some stunning views of the majestic and pristine Rangeley Lakes.
Skiable Terrain at Saddleback
When the Saddleback resort was operational, it was among the best Maine ski resorts, with its 38% beginners trails where families and first timers can learn to ski, guided by expert instructors. Skiers with intermediate skills could enjoy 29% of the trails with plenty of pistes suitable for a quick cruise.
Expert skiers too could get their thighs burned on the 33% expert and advanced skiers. Some of the skiable areas for experts have some glade parts with plenty of fresh powder when it snows. All the pistes and areas are connected with five ski lifts that include quad cars, T-bar, and two-fixed grid doubles.
The Kennebago Steeps: A Challenge for Experts!
The Saddleback ski resort offered small but challenging pistes for expert and advanced skiers. The Kennebago quad chair serviced the Kennebago Steeps when the resort was operational in the 2015 ski season.
Some of the most popular expert and advanced trails include the Governor, Intimidator, and Nightmare glades. Most of these trails were located on the upper side of the resort.
5. Mount Abram
Maine ski resorts are small and perfect for a round-trip skiing adventure, particularly with a family. Another popular small ski resort that is perfect for a family getaway is Mount Abram.
Located in the majestic region of Greenwood, the resort was the first to offer “Learn to Ski” initiative. Mount Abram enjoys the reputation of being one of the most family-friendly Maine ski resorts. Mount Abram was also the first-ever North American ski resort that purchased a full fleet of 100% airless snow guns.
The nearest hotels are 7 to 8 kilometers away from the resort. The Grand Victorian Inn, The Bethel Inn Resort, and the Holidae House Bed & Breakfast are just some of your choices, in case you are planning to enjoy your adventure longer.
Where to Ski at Mount Abram
As far as the size of the resort goes, it doesn’t offer much of an adrenaline rush but it’s a perfect choice for families and those looking to improve their skiing skills.
It has a vertical drop of 1,150 feet. Five lifts service the resort, which take skiers to the different pistes. Among the slopes, 19% are green marked pistes, perfect for families particularly kids learning to ski.
Luckily, 41% of the pistes are marked blue, which indicates that intermediate skiers have more options when it comes to skiing at Mount Abram than experts.
Coming towards the expert and advanced skiers, 26% black diamond slopes are for advanced and 15% slopes are marked double black diamond, which indicates they are for powder hounds looking for a challenge. Expert and advanced skiers will need to take the Way Back Machine double chairlift to reach the powder-filled pistes.
Skiing in Maine: The Bottom line
After taking a detailed look at the Maine ski resorts, it’s safe to say that these skiing destinations are the ideal skiing options for families with children.
However, each of the resort has some expert and advanced terrains, so taking a round trip around these resorts is worth a shot. Sugarloaf and Sunday River are the top-rated ski resorts, so make sure to put them on your list for your next ski vacation.
Mount Abram is a small but family-friendly ski resort that is perfect for a short ski holiday with kids. If you wish to polish your skiing skills, then we recommend you start with Mount Abram. It has one of the finest ski schools in Maine.
If you’re a fan of night skiing, then Shawnee Peak is the resort to choose. So far, it’s the only ski resort in Maine that offers spectacular night skiing option. You won't need to worry about lack of snow in any of the resort since each resort has its own snow making facility.
Unfortunately, Saddleback, a resort that was once the third largest among the Maine ski resorts, has closed down. Luckily, the news is that the resort might be up for sale again and a Boston based company is willing to invest after the Australian deal didn’t work out.
The après ski in each of the resorts is fun and you can choose to have a quiet après in one of the local pubs or have a blast in the more crowded rowdy bars. If you want to spend some family time without skies, then Sugarloaf and Sunday River ski resorts have plenty of winter activities to keep the children entertained.