Elevation: 4,237 feet Vertical Drop: 2,820 feet acres: 1,400 Snowfall: 176 inches (at 3,695 feet) Getting There: Sugarloaf is two hours from Portland and four hours from Boston. Head north on I-95 to US 27. Info: 800-843-5623, sugarloaf.com
Beta: Sure, the postcard views stretching all the way to Canada from atop Sugarloaf, the state’s second-highest peak, are dandy, and the vibe is laid-back, but that’s not why you’ll slog to the hinterlands of Maine to ski here. A massive, bald-topped chunk of mountain, the Loaf has a greater vertical drop than Taos and twice the acreage of Aspen Mountain. You’ll find tight glades, serpentine bump runs like Bubblecuffer, and toe-curling fall-line dives like White Nitro. The mountain’s pièce de résistance: The Snowfields, a 600-foot vertical plunge through a maze of boulders and snow-encrusted scrub pine. It’s an ungroomed, above-the-trees playground unlike any other in New England. After a nor’easter, there’s no place else to be.
8:30 a.m.: Take the Whiffletree and King Pine quads and make laps through pillowed bumps and glades in King Pine Bowl. 10 a.m.: Migrate skier’s left to the Spillway East Double, taking on Upper Gondola Line, a narrow, precipitous heart-in-your-neck-gaiter chute. Post lunch: Work your way to the Timberline quad. From the summit, pick your line through The Snowfields.
3 Days Later
Look to the trees to find hidden powder. Begin with the glades of King Pine Bowl, where the snow’s the deepest, thanks to prevailing winds. Find the last of the fresh in the glades beneath the Sugarloaf Superquad.
In spring, the firm bumps in King Pine Bowl soften up. Start here. Follow the sun’s boilerplate-mellowing rays as they hit Ripsaw. Find corn lower down on Haywire.
Ride Double Bitter to the terrain park and its 17-foot-high, 400-foot-long halfpipe, one of the longest in the Northeast. If you play in the eastern reaches of The Snowfields, be prepared for the short chug back on Hard Tack.
Marquee Route: Upper Narrow Gauge slingshots you downhill with more twists and turns than a luge run. About a third of the way down, veer skier’s left and launch the short 37-degree connector trail called Cribworks.
Off-Broadway: One of the mountain’s oldest runs, and maybe its narrowest, Double Bitter “is like riding a bowling ball down a rain gutter,” says one local.
Drinking & Dancing
The Widowmaker Lounge (207-237-6845) is the base area’s top venue for bands and dancing. For happy hour, hit the Sugarloaf Brewing Company (207-237-2211), with its pine post-and-beam cathedral ceiling. Order up a home-brewed pint of Snowmaker Oatmeal Stout for two bucks. Wednesdays are open-mike nights.
Cure your hangover with a stack of blueberry pancakes at the Woodsman (207-265-2561) in Kingfield. Lunch at the on-mountain Bullwinkle’s (207-237-2000). For dinner, it’s burgers and potato ale at the Bag & Kettle (207-237-2451) in the base village. Splurge on local dishes like maple cider chicken at One Stanley Avenue (207-265-5541) in town.
Three Stanley Avenue Bed & Breakfast, built 100 years ago, has six clean, cozy rooms ($60-$65; stanleyavenue.com). If you want someone to carry your bags and park your car, stay at the Grand Summit Resort Hotel in the village ($120-$260; sugarloaf.com).
Locals rendezvous at day’s end to hang out and party at a picnic table in the woods. Look for the entrance to a path near the top of the Horseshoe trail.
With a summit high above tree line, the only barrier between your face and the strong, frigid breezes blowing down from Canada is Kiehl’s All-Sport “Non-Freeze” Face Protector ($15; kiehls.com), a waxy concoction with SPF 30 designed by World Cup raacer Klaus Heidegger.