World Cup Champion Bode Miller honed his skills on Maine’s slopes during his four years at Sugarloaf Carrabassett Valley Academy. Seth Wescott's Gold Medal snowboarding training grounds are all about the Loaf. Although Maine’s big mountains offer plenty of challenge for the fastest alpine skier in the world, you don’t have to ski like Bode to experience the best ski trails in Maine. All levels of skiers can take to the peaks for a peek at the beautiful Pine Tree State.
Shawnee Peak, in Bridgton, is a primo ski hill for families and shutterbugs alike. The fact that this was once called Pleasant Mountain Ski Area gives you an inkling of the gentle tone and trails. The Jack Spratt Trail, located under the summit triple chair, provides a pleasant cruise with amazing views of Maine's Mahoosuc Range and New Hampshire's majestic White Mountains. And with Moose Pond below serving as a frozen reflective pool to the ski area, you might feel like you are in Lake Tahoe - sort of.
Everyone that skis
should make their way to Jordan Bowl – the furthest west of the
eight-interconnected mountain peaks at this sprawling Maine resort. Be ready for an eye-opening view as the quad chair
crests the last knoll. It’s a stunning but swift scene, as this
high-speed lift zooms along and you must “prepare to unload.” After
you slide safely off the chair, you can click out of your skis and
climb a dozen stairs to the observation deck to properly admire the
Presidential and Mahoosuc ranges – identified on the posted chart.
The cruise down Lollapalooza, a wide undulating beginners’ boulevard that eventually escorts you to the Jordan Grand slopeside hotel where you can slide into lunch at Sliders, or back to the chairlift to repeat the experience.
Upper Sunday Punch at Sunday River is one of my personal favorites. This classic run was part of the original ski area long before Jordan Bowl was developed. After disembarking from the long, laid-back ride on the Locke Mountain triple chair, steer straight ahead and to your right. You’ll be instantly rewarded with remarkable views off the backside, to Shawnee Peak and Mt. Abram. You can also glimpse across several peaks that comprise the River Empire, which encompasses several miles.
Just down the road from The River is Mt. Abram, a treasure for young families and frugal skiers. Mt. Abram has a few dozen fun runs with a playful Bullwinkle theme. One of the most scenic is Dudley Do Right according to the ski area owner Josh Burns. “Dudley is a trail for all levels with great views of the White Mountains and the Presidentials, it is one of our longest trails. Dudley is the Burns’ family favorite, my 75-year-old father likes to cruise on it, my wife likes it for the big GS turns she can practice, and my 10-year-old son likes the Terrain Park on the side,” said Burns.
Upper Easy Rider at Mount Abram is another peak pick, with western views of the Presidential Range and a glimpse of neighboring Sunday River as you work your way down from the scenic summit of this 1,000-foot vertical ski area.
in the Rangeley Lakes Region has the highest base elevation of any ski
area in New England. Saddleback is proof of the theory “the higher you
go - the better the views.” Tri-Color offers spectacular views
of Rangeley Lake and the surrounding northwestern mountains – but you
have to ride the tremulous upper mountain T-Bar to get there.
Novices may prefer riding the more comfortable Royal Coachman Chair and sauntering down Blue Devil for similar scenery. Saddleback’s owner Bill Berry (who purchased the ski area from near closure ) renamed all the trails to reflect the region’s deep fly fishing heritage.
Last but not least,
Sugarloaf is Maine’s mightiest single ski mountain with epic,
360-degree views, spanning Katahdin to Mount Washington.It
takes at least two chairlift rides to reach the 4,237-foot summit and
the “top of everyone’s list” trail – Timberline. You can pause
for a break inside the old gondola building (don’t get excited about
anything but the view, there are no services – just a rustic ski
patrol hang out). Timberline is your reward, a tremendously long,
leisurely run with sweeping turns like an Omni Max presentation –
giving the skier an ever-changing panorama.
Timberline is former Maine governor Angus King’s favorite trail. “The views, particularly to the west from the summit, are fabulous,” said King. “The slope is just right for the kind of relaxed, wide turn skiing I like, and it is a long (usually) un-crowded run.”
Timberline is justly marked with a "Kodak photo spot" icon on the trail map and an “easiest way down” Green Circle to encourage folks of all abilities to make the trek to the top. Another recommendation is a break at the cozy Bullwinkle’s mid-mountain lodge for a steaming hot cocoa and a chewy chocolate brownie.
Maine has over 500 ski trails, each with a unique and ever changing view. Get out and ski Maine’s high points this winter.