No. 7? This is an outrage. Sugarloaf was No. 3 last year, and it deserves to stay there. Readers committed this misdeed, but a lot of them also echoed my sentiment, including one who called it "the single best mountain in the East." To begin with, that big cone of rock provides a vertical drop of 2,820 feet, making it the second tallest ski resort in New England. When they're open, the snowfields provide the only above-treeline lift-accessed skiing in the East. And there's that indefinable Sugarloaf attitude. One reader describes it as "like being in a big family," and another lauded "the friendliest, most upbeat staff." So why No. 7? Many readers complain about the drive up (it weeds out the undeserving) and the cold (skiing is a winter sport). And it's hard (but possible) to argue with the person who says, "not much in the way of dining or nightlife." Still, readers agree Sugarloaf is doing most things extremely well. It's easy to tell: Employees are happy to be here. Readers love the kids programs, the terrain parks and, of course, the big-mountain terrain. Sugarloaf's 129 trails range from killer tree runs like Cant Dog to the easy green of Timberline. Says one reader, "Wide, uncrowded trails-you'll feel like you're out West." Sugarloaf is definitely in the top three, if not this year, then next. -Nathaniel Reade
WHAT'S NEW Expanded Widowmaker Lounge; improved snowmaking at the terrain park for earlier opening; better signage.
A GOOD DEAL During White White World Week, Jan. 27-31, enjoy $29 tickets, $59 per night ski-and-stay packages and lots of wild events.
MEDALS GOLD Terrain, Challenge, Family Programs, Terrain Parks; SILVER Snow, Grooming, Value, Service, On-Mountain Food, Lodging, Dining, Après, Scenery.
HIGH/LOW RANK Family Programs (12) Terrain Parks (13), Service (19); Scenery (40), Weather (49) Access (55).
DON'T MISS The Stanley Museum in Kingfield memorializes the life of twin inventors F.E. and F.O. Stanley, best known for their superfast Stanley Steamer automobile.
READER REMARKS (+) "The best mountain and nicest people on Earth!" "Great steep terrain and big-mountain feel."
(-) "Freaking cold!" "Remote location-out in God's Country."