Sometimes justice does prevail. Virtually ignored by readers just four years ago, Sugarloaf has steadily climbed in the survey to right where it belongs. Some readers complain of what one calls "a real butt-wearying drive." And you won't find a Killingtonesque nightlife here. But other than that, many readers call Sugarloaf "the best mountain in the East." Why? It starts with one righteous piece of mountain real estate. Sugarloaf's big cone of rock has a summit elevation of 4,237 feet and a vertical drop of 2,820 feet, making it the second-tallest ski resort in New England. And when they're open-about half the season-the famous snowfields provide the only lift-accessed above-treeline skiing in the East. You also liked the variety and challenge of the 125 trails, be they scary steeps like White Nitro, ungroomed killers like Rip Saw, or the long, winding green of Tote Road. "Great fall-line skiing," says one reader. "Best terrain in the East," adds another. What truly makes Sugarloaf shine, however, is a certain feeling in the air. A gold medal for Service ("Best service in the USA," one reader says) testifies to the effectiveness of management's employee relations, as well as their all-around "can-do" attitude. It's not unusual on busy weekends to see vice presidents handing out tissues or parking cars. But the people who love Sugarloaf also love that remote, rural, end-of-the-earth quality: "It's a die-hard Mainer kind of place, with a cult following," one reader says. Ain't that the truth. "I have skied for more than 60 years all over the world," says one reader. "Other than Les Trois Vallées in France, Sugarloaf is tops."
WHAT'S NEW A 3.5-mile green trail, allowing beginners to ski from the summit, and upgraded snowmaking in the Whiffletree area.
A GOOD DEAL Lift tickets for only $29 during White White World Week, Jan. 28-Feb. 1; 800-843-5623.
MEDALS GOLD Terrain, Challenge, Service, Family Programs; SILVER Snow, Grooming, Value, Lodging, Dining, Après-Ski.
HIGH/LOW RANK Service (7), Terrain (8), Challenge (16); Scenery (42), Weather (56), Access (74).
DON'T MISS One Stanley Avenue (207-265-5541) in Kingfield-one of the best restaurants in Maine.
READER REMARKS (+) "Rivals the West." "A true destination ski resort."
(-) "Closest airport is 2 1/2 hours away." "Windy and cold."