Nov 06, 2008
The River's true nature is most readily exposed on the precipitous steeps of White Cap Mountain.
Trace a line formed by Maine's State Routes 16, 27, 4, and 142 and you will encircle some of the state's highest mountains. In the southern part of the circle you'll find the long, impressive mass of Saddleback Mountain, from whose summit drop the twisty, wooded trails of Saddleback the ski resort.
Any serious Eastern skier who hasn’t heard the name Brackett Basin hasn’t been listening. Sugarloaf’s massive terrain expansion into the drainage that joins it to nearby Burnt Mountain will nearly double its size, making it the East’s biggest resort. Phase one opened 270 acres last season. Phase two opens this season with an additional 135. When phase three opens, sometime before 2020, skiers will be able to drop from Burnt’s whaleback summit through 655 new gladed acres—from tight, steep bowling alleys to open meadows. Sugarloafers, already a proud bunch, are about to become even more insufferable.
Quick Tip: Don’t be put off by the cold, some of the best powder days at Sugarloaf are the chilliest, so throw on another layer and get out there. If it’s blowing sideways you can usually count on the Bateau T-bar to still be spinning.
Backcountry Access: When it’s open, The Snowfields offer some of the best inbounds, backcountry-style terrain in the East. Take the Timberline Chairto the top and then hike up behind the patrol shack to the backside and look for the signs.
8 A.M. Grab a cup of local Carrabassett coffee at Java Joe’s in the village. Check the mountain report and rub elbows with the Sugarloaf’s ski patrol who’ll be getting their caffeine fix too.
9 A.M. Take the Superquad to the Spillway Chair. The East and West Spillway chairs sit side by side, though Spillway Eastgives you a few hundred more feet of vertical. Gondola Line provides some of the smoothest, most buffed corduroy around. For something more mellow, Tote Road still lets you carve trenches but without as steep a pitch as some of the runs directly under Spillway.
10 A.M. If it’s snowing, race the locals to the King Pine Chair and hit the trees for some of the best tree skiing in the East. Be quick though: These get hit hard and fast on a powder day and will be long tracked out by mid-day.
11 A.M. Make laps off the Superquad Chair. Narrow Guage and Competition Hill to the left of the chair and Hayburner and Skidderto the right all offer plenty of curves and pitch.
1 P.M. The Bag and Kettle is a must. The infamous Bag Burgerhas won more “Best Burger” accolades than Michael Bolton has won Grammys. Wash the burger down with an impressive tap selection.
2 P.M. Ready to get your jib on? Ski movie stars and budding park rats looking for a sponsor will find every manner of jump, jib, rail, box, and feature in the oversized Haywire park. Mere mortals looking for a little airtime without quite the risk will find more beginner and intermediate hits in the Skybound park on Whiffletree and the Stomping Grounds. The Pipe Dreams Superpipe can be found off Pipeline.
3 P.M. Head to the new deck at Bullwinkle’s to soak up that afternoon sun (accompanied by your beverage of choice) and then wind down with some low-key, easy-going laps off of the Bucksaw Chair. Much of the mountain will be a bit shaded by this point but runs like Windrow should still be warm and sun-drenched.
4 P.M. One place and one place only: The Widowmaker’s Lounge is what après skiing is all about. Friendly faces, a sunny deck, and a perfect location right at the bottom of the hill in the village make this your cocktail stop of choice.
7 P.M. Gepetto’s in the village serves up killer Italian cuisine. Or if you missed The Bag and Kettle for lunch, now would be the time. If you’re hankerin’ for some pizza, the Shipyard makes a worthy pie (and even delivers).
10 P.M. Swing into the Shipyard for beers and a bit of socializing, then head to the bottom of the access road and belly up to the bar at The Rack (owned by local superhero Seth Wescott) where you’ll usually find some good live music and pool in the loft.
Overnight: The Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel offers high quality on-mountain lodging close to the base lodge. For slightly cozier and less fancy digs, The Sugarloaf Inn offers more country-style accommodations just down the access road.