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From its rocky shores to its sprawling peaks, Maine sure lives up to its Vacationland moniker. And among it all, Sugarloaf—or “The Loaf” as regulars call it—stands 4,249 feet tall as a true legend. Ever since the mountain was added to the Ikon Pass two years ago, more skiers are finding that extra time in the car isn’t so bad after all. “We know there are so many other ski resorts closer but we know the destination is always worth the drive,” one reader notes. And just look at The Loaf’s rankings: It’s No. 2 in the coveted Terrain category, much deserved when you consider its one-of-a-kind above-treeline offerings; also Top 10 in Snow, Grooming, Service, Value, Local Flavor, Charm, Après, Nightlife, and Overall Satisfaction.
This season, expect new RFID ticket scanning technology at high-volume lifts and, looking ahead, Sugarloaf released a new 10-year plan that includes 450-plus acres of new beginner and intermediate terrain with a high-speed lift, real estate developments, a tubing park, mountain bike trails, and more. This will be one of the biggest capital improvements any East Coast resort has announced in recent memory, and surely something to keep an eye on as it all unfolds. — Connor W. Davis
2021 Reader Resort Rank of Sugarloaf, Maine: No. 12 in the East
- DOWN-DAY ACTIVITY: If you’re going to go snowmobiling anywhere, do it in Maine. This state lives and breathes snowmobiling, with an absolutely massive network of trails and rental services everywhere.
- OFF-HILL RESTAURANT: The Rack, positioned toward the bottom of Sugarloaf’s access road, is a quintessential Maine bar and eatery. Whether it’s for après, dinner, or even brunch, it’s a must-visit.
Get caught up: No. 13 in the East – Stowe, Vt.
No. 11 in the East: Jay Peak, Vt.
Sugarloaf’s 2020 SKI Magazine Reader Resort Survey Rank: 7th in the East
Size matters. When you’re craving serious steeps, bump-choked twisters, tight trees, the ’Loaf provides. The “best big mountain in the East” blends “soul and starch,” delivering legendary expert terrain (No. 3 in Terrain, No. 6 in Challenge) along with a friendly ’tude and the East’s only lift-serviced, above-treeline skiing.
It’s not all gnarly: Plentiful blue cruisers and gentle greens also ripple from summit to base. “From the backside snowfields and Brackett Basin glades to the Boardwalk Landing, it offers something for everyone.” Even confident beginners can savor the summit’s eye-candy views. “On a clear day, you can see Mt. Washington.” Look east and spy Katahdin. Friends and families can spread out knowing all trails return to the “great little base village with plenty of dining and après options.”
Sugarloaf’s Achilles’ heel is its remote location, but that “travel investment returns short lift lines, skilled patrons, and a distinct local flavor.” Truth: it can be brutally “windy and cold,” but that’s part of its rugged vibe. While Mother Nature tends to be generous with natural snow, when she throws a tantrum, the snowmaking and grooming teams work magic (No. 5 in Snow). “Sugarloaf is more than just a resort, it’s a lifestyle. The moment you come around Oh-My-Gosh Corner, you know you’re home.” — Hilary Nangle
- OFF-THE-MAP TRAIL: Book a cat-skiing tour to lift-free Brackett Basin.
- DOWN DAY ACTIVITY: Don snowshoes or cross-country skis, pack a picnic lunch, and trek into Stratton Brook Hut on the Maine Huts & Trails system.
- LOCAL TIP: Area restaurants with two-fer-dinner nights include Coplin Dinner House on Wednesdays and Tufulio’s on Sundays.
SKI Magazine’s 2019 Review of Sugarloaf, Maine
Sugarloafers are a different breed. They pride themselves on being tougher than skiers at lesser mountains (a.k.a. the rest of New England, if not the country), and to a certain extent, that’s true. They laugh at weather, vying for bragging rights about sub-zero temps and double-digit breezes, and skillfully pinball through moguls on über-steep, narrow, twisting trails that would terrify many mortals.
But the truth is everyone, even confident beginners, can enjoy Instagram-worthy views of Mount Washington before skiing from Sugarloaf ’s above-treeline summit to its base, taking in the length of its 2,800 feet of vertical drop. The ’Loaf gilds its plentiful gentle greens, color-me-blue cruisers, and World Cup blacks with above-treeline snowfields, checkered glades, and snowcat access to lift-free Burnt Mountain. All trails funnel to Sugarloaf’s compact base village, which offers enough lodging, dining, and entertainment to keep the party rolling, whether that means soaking in a hot tub or gleaning local tips at The Bag. – Hilary Nangle
Come for the…
- CHALLENGE Experts can achieve Nirvana amidst Sugarloaf’s moguls, above-treeline steeps, and tight trees.
- TERRAIN VARIETY Of the ’Loaf’s 162 trails, 23 percent are beginner and 34 percent are intermediate, so even if you’re not an expert you can find your happy place.
- FAMILY ACTIVITY The SugarBowl entertains families with bowling, golf simulator, pool table, darts, TVs, a bar, and tasty pub food.
- DINNER RESERVATION The Coplin Dinner House emphasize seasonal, local fare such as pork from an employee’s farm.
- BRAGGING RIGHTS Take a spin and soak up the lore on Narrow Gauge, where Bode rose to fame in 1996, destroying the Junior Olympics competition on his K2 Fours.
- APRÈS SPOT Fancy yourself a ping-pong pro? Don’t talk too big a game before taking on the competition at the beloved Rack.