28% beginner, 32% intermediate, 40% expert
Located off Route 27 between Kingfield and Eustis, Maine, Sugarloaf is a two-hour drive from Bangor, nearly three from Portland. If you fly into Portland, you can take a limo or charter air service, or rent a car and drive to the area.
An adult, full-day weekend ticket is $47; for teens (13¿18), $42; kids (6¿12), $29; 5 and unders ski free. Midweek rates and multiday tickets are cheaper. Classic Ski Weeks and Value Weekends include lifts, lodging, health club access, and lessons. Prices start at $56 per person, $326 for five midweek days.
Between condos and hotels, there are nearly 10,000 beds in the Sugarloaf area, 7,500 with ski-in, ski-out access. Gilman Stream (207-628-6257), a charming B&B a half hour from Sugarloaf, is $50 a night for two. There's also The Herbert (800-THE-HERB), a 28-room 1918 hotel in Kingfield, 20 minutes away. Rates range from $65¿$200.
FOOD & DRINK
For lunch, bag a slopeside burger at The Bag & Kettle; go Monday evenings for Blues Night. For après-ski, head down valley for dollar Schaefers at Judson's, a townie bar eight miles south on Route 27. Microbrew connoisseurs should hit Theo's Restaurant & Sugarloaf Brewing Company. At night you can take a snowcat ride up to the midmountain Bullwinkles, which transforms into a white-tablecloth restaurant in the evening. For casual fine dining off-mountain, visit the Porter House, a newly renovated New England farmhouse outside Eustis.
Local Lingo: When chatting with locals, remember to drop your r's, as in: "I'm from Bangah, and afta skiin' the powda, I'm gonna get right warm with some wicked good Maine fish chowda. Ayuh."
Ski the best-kept secret on the mountain, Double Bitter¿a narrow black-diamond run that's on the map, but hardly skied.
Next year, check out White White World Week, a winter carnival 31 years in the running held in late January. This year, head up for Reggae Weekend, a huge spring bash with bands and barbecues, April 17¿19.
Go dogsledding behind a team of Samoyeds with Tim Diehl, a lift op turned musher. His outfit is TAD Dogsled Service (207-246-4461), and the cost is $40 a half hour for adults, $30 for kids.
The Sugarloaf Outdoor Center (207-237-6830) offers guided Snowshoe Safaris, ice skating on an Olympic-sized rink, and 95 kilometers of cross-country skiing. At lunchtime, warm up in the center's rustic lodge with home-cooked fare. Rentals available.
Asked what he'd do if he could change anything at Sugarloaf, new owner Les Otten (of the American Skiing Company) responded, "Move it to Springfield, Massachusetts." Short of the big move, ASC has removed Sugarloaf's 32-year-old gondola and added the new Timberline quad to the summit. Regulars will miss the gondola's charm, but they won't miss its closure track record. The new lift is part of $3.8 million in improvements, including more trails and increased snowmaking.