Sugarloaf proves once again that life is all a matter of perspective. About the worst thing most readers said about Maine's mightiest mountain was that it is "in the absolute middle of nowhere." To its regulars, however-and Sugarloaf is a real regular's mountain-that isolation is part of why they love it: The long drive reduces the crowds and weeds out all but those who are interested foremost in what one reader calls "the best pure ski mountain in the East." Come around "Oh My Gosh" corner on Route 16 and you get plenty of perspective: That huge, conical mountain with 2,820 feet of vertical rise (the second-tallest resort in the original colonies) provides what one reader calls "the most varied and challenging terrain in the East." The Snowfields at the top-open at least half the season-provide the only lift-accessed above-treeline skiing in the East, and killer steeps, down trails like White Nitro and Upper Winter's Way, will keep experts sweaty. "Best resort in the U.S. for expert skiers," one reader applauds. Intermediates, meanwhile, can find an entire day of undisturbed cruising on the wide-open trails off the Wiffletree chair, where fighting crowds won't be an issue. Sugarloaf also gets high marks from readers for its staff, restaurants, snowmaking and grooming. "The type of place where everyone knows your name," a reader cheers. The weather is more debatable. Some skiers contend that it can get particularly cold here, but others respond that that's why Sugarloaf gets powder when others get rain. And when readers complain that it's hard to get to, Sugarloaf cognoscenti respond: not if you're already there.
WHAT'S NEW A 17-foot Pipe Dragon.
A GOOD DEAL Half-price beer at the Sugarloaf Brewing Company from 3-6 pm. Two-for-one dinner at Gepetto's on Tuesday nights.
MEDALS GOLD Terrain, Challenge; SILVER Grooming, Service, On-Mountain Food, Lodging, Dining, Family Programs.
HIGH/LOW RANK Service (14), On-Mountain Food (16), Family Programs (19); Snow (58), Accessibility (79), Weather (82).
DON'T MISS One Stanley Avenue in Kingfield, one of the most creative restaurants in Maine. Call (207) 265-5541.
READER REMARKS (+) "There is Sugarloaf and then there is everywhere else." "Homey and a little old-fashioned. A nice change of pace." (-) "Can't get there from here." "Old and limited number of lifts."