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Skiing in Maine

While many may flock to Vermont every winter for great skiing, Maine has more than it's fair share of great mountains to explore. From the well known Sugarloaf Ski Resort to the smaller, Mt. Abram, Maine has something for just about everyone. In general you'll find shorter lift lines and less crowded conditions on the mountain than some of the more southerly ski areas. When I was learning how to ski as a child, my dad would take us to a place called Sky-Hy. It took us about 3 minutes to get down the hill before getting on the dreaded T-Bar (which took you up a 90 degree incline), but it filled the bill for a young family learning to ski.

Maine still offers the young and inexperienced plenty of great places to learn and the not-so-young, plenty of places to find a challenge. Read more about 5 ski resorts you may want to check out this winter.Sugarloaf.The Mountain & Trails.If you're looking for that big mountain ski experience in Maine, with all the amenities, Sugarloaf definitely tops the list.

This mountain boast a vertical drop of 2,820 foot, 118 varied trails to explore, and an award winning slope-side village. Sugarloaf also provides skiers lift service above the tree line, for some great skiing in the snowfields, something you won't find at any other mountain in the Northeast. Sugarloaf also has a wide variety of terrain for every level and ability of skier.

The longest trail here is the Tote Road, 3.5 miles from summit to base. (Tote Road is named after a logging term, as is almost every trail on this mountain).

Some of my most enjoyable and memorable skiing in Maine has been on this trail at Sugarloaf. For all the work it takes to get to the slopes, runs like this make it all worth the effort. For skiers who enjoy the all-inclusive ski resort experience, this Maine Mountain really delivers.Lodging & Activities.If you're looking to make a real vacation out of your stay at Sugarloaf, you will want to check out the Grand Summit Resort Hotel.

With a choice of studio, suite or penthouse, the Grand Summit is a modern, full-service hotel with the feeling of the grand hotels of another era. The slopeside condos are also a great option, especially with a family. Being able to cook your own meals and come back to a homey, relaxing atmosphere after a long day of skiing may be your style. I know that it is definitely our preference when skiing with our family, when the budget allows. You will also find an excellent ski school here, as well as day-care and a tubing park. Be sure to check their website at www. -when planning your vacation, as there is always a full calendar of activities going at Sugarloaf. There are also some great restaurants and shopping right in the village. If you need it, it is probably here.Ticket Prices & Special Deals.

While you won't find rock bottom lift ticket prices here, they do offer a variety of ski packages and discount prices on particular weeks, which are well worth looking into. During weekends in February they offer a special $99 per person per night special, check their site for specifics. Sugarloaf is owned by the American Ski Company, so you can sign up for their Edge Card frequent skier program and receive a free day of skiing after skiing for 6 days.

You can also use the Sugarloaf E- ticket, buy a multi-day ticket on-line at least 14 days in advance and save up to 10%. Full-day lift ticket prices for the 2005-2006 season are as follows: Adult $61, Young Adult (13-18) $55, Junior/Senior (6-12/65+ $39. To learn more about this legendary ski resort and their special packages, go to River.

The Mountain & Trails.Coming in a close second to Sugarloaf, is Sunday River. This mountain has eight interconnected peaks that are consistently covered by snow.

If it's not courtesy of Mother Nature, Sunday River makes sure there is plenty of the white stuff to keep its skiers happy, (right into April). With 128 trails spread out over the mountain's peaks, the skiing rarely feels crowded here. And the terrain offers trails for just about every level of skier.

The one thing I really love about this mountain is that our family can all stay together, for the most part. Because there are so many varied trails serviced by the chairs, we can all ride up together and take the trails that fit each family members level of ability. I have 3 children that range in age from 7 to 13 and usually my husband and I have to divide and conquer in order to accommodate our children's different levels of ability. It makes skiing as a family a much more enjoyable experience when you can all ski together.

The North Peak Lodge on the mountain is a great place to gather for lunch, especially on a sunny day when you can get out and enjoy the deck.Lodging & Activities.There are plenty of options for lodging here as well, with over 700 condominiums, two hotels and a comfortable inn. Sunday River recommends the Grand Summit Hotel. The on-mountain trolley system and the Mountain Explorer Shuttle service all of the slopeside accommodations, which make getting around very easy. The Jordan Grand Hotel is also an option for those wishing to stay on the Mountain.

Some of the many amenities include: kitchenettes, a heated outdoor pool, health club, slopeside trail access, and a resort shuttle. Check the website for the full list. Nearby Bethel also offers plenty of lodging options including bed & breakfast, inns and motels. The Mountain Explorer will also take you into Bethel. The Bethel Chambers' web site has additional information at www.bethelmaine.

com. You will also find the White Cap Fun Center at Sunday River, which offers plenty to do for all ages, day or night. Accessible by the on-mountain trolley system, they've got ice-skating, a tubing park, and several restaurants. The lighted rink is free for use and open every day and evening. Tubing is always a great alternative when you need a break from skiing and this tubing park is excellent.

There are two runs serviced by a lift and a tubing pass will cost you $26 for four hours or $16 for two hours. Located at the White Cap Base Lodge, the Fun Center is easily accessible by the Mountain Explorer. You will also find a choice of three restaurants here.Ticket Prices & Special Deals.

Since the American Ski Company also owns Sunday River, you can use the Edge Card here, as well. Full-day lift ticket prices for the 2005-2006 season are as follows: Adult $59, Young Adult (13-18) $54, Junior/Senior (6-12/65+ $41.They also offer the Sunday River E-ticket, which allows you to save up to 10% when you purchase your multi-day tickets online at least 14 days in advance. You should also check out their website www.sundayriver.

com for special package deals that are offered throughout the winter.Mt. Abram.The Mountain & Trails.Not the biggest Mountain in Maine, but I would definitely have to agree with their description of themselves as a "Family Friendly Winter Resort". For budget conscious families with younger children, this resort fills the bill.

The people who run this resort are friendly and really work at maintaining their well-deserved reputation. Described as a "Little Gem" in Ski Magazine, Mt Abram has 44 trails, serviced by 5 lifts, with something for just about every level of skier. What really makes this mountain so perfect for young families, is the separate beginner's area on the Westside. The Westside Lodge is an ideal place for families with young children to camp out. Complete with food service, ski school and day care, you can purchase a full-day lift ticket for $15 for beginners, a very affordable way to introduce your youngster to skiing.

In addition to the Westside Lodge, there is also the Main Lodge (and retail shop), with a convenient shuttle that runs between the two. There are also a number of intermediate runs all over the mountain, as well as some very good trails for the more advance skier. Once you reach the top of this 1500-foot vertical mountain, be sure to take some time to enjoy the views of Mt. Washington and the Lakes Region.

Lodging & Activities.Although there are no accommodations at Mt. Abram, the resort is only 5 minutes from Bethel.

This town offers a wide variety of options for lodging; quaint Bed & Breakfast, affordable motels and full-service Inns. In fact if you go to Mt. Abram's website, www., you will find links to a number of places Mt. Abram partners with (which means they generally offer some discount of tickets), as well as the Bethel Chamber, www. For those who need a break from skiing, Bethel is a great little town to explore, with restaurants, shops and The BIG Adventure Center for kids (and adults who like to have fun).

You will also find excellent tubing here, the longest tubing run in Maine actually. They also offer classes in alpine skiing, telemark and snowboarding. And be sure to check their website, as they offer a full calendar of events and live entertainment each week.Ticket Prices & Special Deals.In addition to the family friendly atmosphere, Mt.

Abram offers very affordable lift ticket prices. Full-day lift ticket prices for the 2005-2006 season are as follows: Adult (13-74) $42, Junior/Senior (7-12/75+) $32. Children 6 and under ski for free. On Thursdays and Fridays 2 adults can ski for $42 and 2 juniors/seniors for $32. Be sure to check their website for special deals and hours of operation, as they only operate Thursday through Sunday, except for school vacations.Saddleback.

The Mountain & Trails.It has been about 5 years since I last skied at Saddleback, and I understand changes are afoot, as the mountain is under new ownership. However, they assure skiers that it remains the same friendly environment people have come to love. That certainly was my experience then, although my children were quite young. It had a very relaxed, laid back feel to it. The lodge was very rustic.

In fact, it was much as I had remembered from school high school ski trips years ago. While maintaining the qualities that people have come to know and appreciate, Saddleback has opened 4 new trails and glades, 30 additional chairs on the Rangely Chairlift and greater snowmaking capacity (something they were not previously known for). Other positive changes are lower regular season pass rates (always a good thing) and new and improved food services (again), always a good thing). I look forward to returning soon to experience to changes firsthand. Located in the beautiful Rangely Lakes region, Saddleaback's 2000 vertical feet, offers 54 trails with a great variety of skiing terrain for every level of ability.

You'll find a good area for beginners, plenty of good runs for intermediates and some very challenging trails for the more experienced skier here.Lodging & Activities.The Rangeley area has plenty of places for lodging.

There are privately owned trailside condominiums available that can be rented through Saddleback's in-house rental agency. Check their website for prices and availability.

You will also find links there for B & B's, Inns, Motels, Hotels, as well as Rental Agents that can find you Cottages, Homes or Condos to rent. During my last visit, my immediate and extended family rented a large house for a week, which made for a fun and affordable ski vacation. The Rangeley Chamber of Commerce can point you in the right direction for lodging, restaurant, and shopping information at www.rangeleymaine.

com.Ticket Prices & Special Deals.The prices here are a good value for the size of this mountain. Full-day lift ticket prices for the 2005-2006 season are as follows: Adult (19-69) $39, Youth/ Student (13-18) $31, Junior (7-12) $29, Senior (Ages 70 & Up) and Little Ones (6 & under) Free.

They also offer a 10 mid-week (non-holiday) lift ticket for $225, and the tickets ARE transferable to friends and family. $25 Lift Ticket Specials are also available: Ladies day is Monday, Men's Day is Wednesday and Senior's Day is Thursday.Black Mountain.

The Mountain & Terrain.This small family ski area should not be overlooked for a good day-trip. Last winter, my brother and I ventured up to Black Mountain from Bath with 5 kids in tow.

All in all, it was a good, very affordable day. With a vertical drop of 1150 feet, it offers a fairly wide variety of terrain. For anyone who skied at Black Mountain prior to 2004, they added a triple chair going to summit during the 2004-2005 season.

Although this mountain has 20 trails, we did find a lot of options for our two youngest skiers (who were 6 at the time). My older children who were 10 and 12 found plenty of good trails to explore. To be fair, it was a pretty cold, w-indy and snowy day, so we did not get to experience Black Mountain in optimum conditions.

That said, I loved the lodge (moms pay attention to these things). It was very new, clean and nicely done with a toasty fire to warm our cold toes. Maneuvering from car to lodge to lift all felt very easy (which is a real plus when you have 5 kids, 5 sets skis, and 5 pairs of heavy boots). For those avid Nordic skiers, Black Mountain also offers 17 kilometers of groomed cross-country trails. By the afternoon our troops were ready to get off the windy mountain and do some tubing.

A lot of fun and again, very affordable. I did the run a couple of times and it really was great fun. Half the fun is getting to tube without having to schlep up the mountain by foot.

Definitely worth the price of admission, which was only $12.Lodging & Other Activities.Black Mountain is really ideal for people living in Maine looking for a good skiing day-trip.

But for those who need to finding lodging in the area, you can find links at the Rumford Chamber of Commerce website

You will also find links to other goings-on in the Rumford area.Ticket Prices & Special Deals.I would highly recommend this mountain to anyone living in Maine for a good day trip, especially if you are not teaching young children how to ski. The lift prices are very affordable, $20 daily, $17 for half-day or night skiing; junior/senior $16, $13. Be sure to check their website www. for hours of operation before venturing out, as they are closed on Mondays.

.Lee Bodkin writes articles about Maine for, a unique, informative website for people who love Maine.

By: Lee Bodkin


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