I spent MLK weekend up at SugarLoaf, a mountain known for cold and blustry weather, a rustic feel, and solid east-coast snow. All-in-all it was fantastic and now sits a-top my list for best east-coast destinations. Driving north from Boston with three friends, Spencer, Kerry, and David, the trip took a solid 5 1/2 hours, including a 45 minute stop in Portland for a local pint and a very large cheeseburger. It was delicious. Arriving late on Friday night we were pleasantly surprised to see strong snow coverage illuminated by moonlight, even through the woods, on most of the mountain. They have had decent snow so far this season.
Let’s back up… for those of you who don’t know much about The Loaf, it is located in the Carrabassett Valley in Maine’s western mountains, about 2.5 to 3 hours from Portland (yes, it’s a poke). It happens to be on Maine’s second highest peak, reaching 4,237 ft, and is the ONLY lift-serviced above-treeline skiing in the east! There is just short of 3,000 vertical feet and almost 1,500 acres of skiable terrain. The resort has developed nicely over the years with modern snowmaking, a range of terrain for the whole family, and decent lift capacity. A small gondola existed for many years but was dissasembled a number of years ago due to safety and regular issues with HIGH winds at the top.
We buckled in to our skis at quarter to 11 (ish) the next day and skied all over the mountain, including a handful of fantastic bump runs over on the King Pine lift, which proved to be the best place to ski (great steep runs and no lines at the lift). The next few days were not sunny blue-bird days of skiing, but the coverage was good, the wind behaved itself, it wasn’t too cold (hovered around 20 deg F), and the APRES was fantastic!
“The Bag” is the local pouring establishment based right in the center at the bottom of the mountain. They even make a nice little IPA called “In the Bag” which has great body, flavor, and almost no after taste. The scene is more of a local / weekend-warrior crowd, some even bringing little kids in to run around and say hi to everyone. Many of the patrons appeared to know each other and were generally very friendly. $2.50 draft beers during apres was also pretty nice (of course it took us 2 days to learn that… we were overpaying for pitchers). Not exactly a place for body shots and Jager machines, but still a terrific establishment!