Skiing Saddleback - Ski Mag

Skiing Saddleback

Maine's sleeping giant awakes just in time for the 09/10 season
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Saddleback trail map

At Saddleback fresh tracks can be found a couple of days after an epic midweek storm, a marathon of hours longer than the typical few. The reason: no crowds. Why? Because aside from the clique of dedicated and passionate Rangeley locals, Saddleback has been a sleeping giant among Maine’s ski areas for years. But then the Berry family bought the area in 2003. They've invested $35 million and expanded the trail network by 60 percent. There are two new quads, a new lodge, snowmaking that covers 85 percent of the mountain and the largest inbounds glade in the east? It’s safe to say the sleeping giant is awakening.

Saddleback’s Casablanca glade is currently 44 acres, but by next year the glade will total over 60. All 60 acres are technically open for business this season—if you’re cool with shredding Mother Nature’s fall line instead of waiting for Saddleback to finish finding it for you. Fresh pow or not, if you allow yourself to be preoccupied in this glade, it’s a guarantee you’ll never ski the same line twice.

After a few runs in the glades, take a break to soak it all in with a view from the Top of the World via the Kennebago quad. You’ll need to hike about 100 yards above the tree line, but from the Top of the World (as locals call it) you’ll see the entire Rangeley Lakes region.

Anyway: The Kennebago quad exclusively accesses Saddleback’s black and double-black diamonds, or about a third of the entire mountain. What’s more, it’s unlikely you’ll run into green-circle skiers, as they have their own runs (and lift—the South Branch quad) dedicated to them around the base area.

For a cruiser run between black and green, check out Grey Ghost, skier’s left of the Rangeley double chair. Grey Ghost has a little more character compared to the predictable groomed cruiser, with pleasant curves and different pitches to keep you on your toes.

Tight Line is another highlight among Saddleback’s groomers—a steep and straightforward run down the fall line.

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Trace a line formed by Maine's State Routes 16, 27, 4, and 142 and you will encircle some of the state's highest mountains. In the southern part of the circle you'll find the long, impressive mass of Saddleback Mountain, from whose summit drop the twisty, wooded trails of Saddleback the ski resort.