Sugarloaf is Maine’s largest ski resort. it has the only above-tree-line skiing in the east, and although it is four hours from the nearest major airport, most agree that it is worth the trip.
The “Sugarloaf Experience” begins a few miles before reaching the mountain when Route 27 rounds a bend and affords the first full view of the mountain. The season here lasts from early November to April. Peak season is mid-February. to mid-March, and low season November to December 24 and mid-March to the end of the season.
The snow record is based on a 10-year average that includes significant swings from 154 inches (391 cm) to 396 inches (1.5 m), but with a snowmaking system covering 92 percent of the skiable area including 10 new state-of-the-art tower guns and revamped pipe system on the eastern side, the resort is able to ensure sufficient high-quality snow on a consistent basis
The resort is most famous for its black diamond Snowfields, but below them is a huge assortment of terrain for all ability levels. The learning area for beginners allows them to ski or ride below the lodge before attempting to board the chairlift. Intermediates enjoy the long, winding cruisers of Tote Road and Timberline, and experts are thrilled by the boundary-to-boundary policy that allows skiers and riders to go anywhere within the boundaries of the resort's 1,400 acres (560 ha) of terrain. Sugarloaf has recently added 13 new trails and glades, which are now groomed nightly with 12 grooming machines, and they are working on upgrading the mountain trail signs.
A key and unique benefit is that these slopes are located below the base lodge, thus beginners can get their bearings on these gentle slopes before attempting to ride a lift for the first time. After that, beginners can enjoy top to bottom terrain on all green trails. Whiffletree is a superb family area with blues and greens that everyone can enjoy together. The Whiffletree SuperQuad whisks you to the top of the trails in under six minutes.
Intermediates can then head down Upper Spillway, which starts as a black trail but levels out somewhat in the middle section. This steep, wide trail is a favorite with those who enjoy making big arcing turns. A suggested itinerary for intermediates would be to take Cinderhoe or Tote Road from the top of the Timberline quad, or from the Superquad take King's Landing down to Candyside.
For steep trails, the Gondola Line is a classic trail that goes straight down the center of the mountain. Narrow Gauge, Sugarloaf's most famous trail, has been the venue for many racing competitions through the years and offers a long, steep trail. For moguls try Ripsaw and Choker in the King Pine Bowl. These two trails remain ungroomed for most of the season, and as they are on the farthest east side of the mountain, they tend to collect snow that drifts from the prevailing west to easterly winds. For constructed mogul lines, Skidder is the training and competition trail for freestyle mogul skiers at Sugarloaf. Ripsaw, Back Side Snowfields, and the Glades are best for powder snow.
A suggested itinerary for advanced skiing and riding would be to ski or ride in the King Pine Bowl with the morning sun: Haulback, Widowmaker, Ripsaw. Then head west and enjoy Gondola Line and Narrow Gauge from the Spillway Chair in the Central Mountain area, then proceed further west in the afternoon to enjoy Competition Hill, Skidder, Hayburner or Double Bitter. The best trail for experts would be White Nitro, which has one of the steepest pitches in the East. Ripsaw, Bubblecuffer, Winters Way, Choker, Misery Whip and Skidder for moguls, and the Glades for fresh, steep powder. Head to the summit from the top of the Timberline quad for the only above-tree-line skiing in the East and a panoramic view into New Hampshire to Mount Washington, or across to Mount Katahdin, Maine's highest mountain. The Perfect Turn Ski School offers Level 8 ski instruction.
Newly opened terrain in Brackett's Basin has greatly expanded Sugarloaf's expert skiing. This new tree-skiing area offers a totally different and more wild experience than skiing on the main mountain. Old logging trails form the backbone of a network of long and challenging glades.
The Quarantine zone on the Cruiser trail is for learning the basics and perfecting new tricks with small jumps, rollers and other features. The Pipeline rail park offers a series of new rails, leading to the Pipe Dreams Superpipe that was built in the fall of 2004. This competition grade superpipe measures 400 feet (122 m) long with 16 foot (5 m) high walls with an 18 degree pitch.
The Stomping Grounds is Sugarloaf's main terrain park and features the largest hits on the mountain ranging in size from 10-50 feet high. It is also the location of a smaller halfpipe that has shorter walls than the Superpipe.
In 2003 the seating capacity of Bullwinkle's was doubled. In the village, The Shipyard Brewhaus at Sugarloaf Inn, the Bag and Kettle Restaurant and Pub, and Gepetto's Restaurant are among the favorites with locals and visitors alike.
The village at Sugarloaf was created in the 1970s and has more than 40 restaurants and stores. Centrally located at the base of the mountain, it offers the only true slopeside village in the East. Visitors return year after year because of the welcoming community setting. Trails all lead back to the base area, providing convenient meeting points for families and friends. With the shuttle services available you can leave your car parked from arrival to departure if you wish.
The Widowmaker Lounge in the Base Lodge is the best place for après ski, with live entertainment every Friday and Saturday night. The Bag and Kettle Restaurant and Pub offers "Blues Night" on Mondays. The Shipyard Brewhaus in Sugarloaf Inn has "Open Mic Night" on Wednesdays; the Double Diamond Restaurant and Pub, in the Grand Summit Hotel, offers live entertainment nightly; and Theo's Sugarloaf Brewery has "Margarita Night" on Wednesdays.
The Shipyard Brewhaus in Sugarloaf Inn, Double Diamond Restaurant and Pub, and Bullwinkle's all have an extensive list of quality wines. Sugarloaf liquor laws allow alcohol to be served to adults aged 21 years or over. Children can accompany parents in bars and other places serving alcohol only until they stop serving food. Bars generally close at 1:00 am.
The Sugarloaf Sports and Fitness Center and the Antigravity Recreational Complex (A.G.C.) are located near the resort entrance. The Fitness Center has a pool, weight room, hot tubs, tanning beds and racquetball courts. The A.G.C. offers a wide variety of indoor activities including Maine's largest climbing wall, plus a skate park and skate bowl. Cross-country skiing at the Outdoor Center offers 65 miles (105 km) of trails weaving through the Longfellows between Sugarloaf, Crocker and Bigelow mountains.
The Outdoor Center also has an Olympic-sized outdoor ice skating rink with music and lights, and snowshoeing, with guided snowshoe safaris and moonlight snowshoeing. The village has several stores but apart from the usual logoed merchandise, Maine-made gifts, skiing and snowboarding gear and clothing, there's not that much in the way of shopping.