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Best Mountain in MAINE?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Can anyone recommend best mountain in Maine? I am an intermediate and my son who is 7 just started. Groomers are very important. We would love something that doesn't get extremely packed on the weekend. Please let me know. Thanks!!

post #2 of 20

sugarloaf

post #3 of 20

Sugarloaf hands down. More of a real mountain that Sunday River

post #4 of 20

Paging @qcanoe

post #5 of 20

Sugarloaf.

post #6 of 20

Intermediate groomers? You likely have different preferences than many skiers here.

 

Though we all can relate to minimal weekend crowds.

post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnL View Post
 

Intermediate groomers? You likely have different preferences than many skiers here.

 

Though we all can relate to minimal weekend crowds.


So...

 

OP shouldn't be bothering all those "dedicated" skiers with questions relating to less august concerns?  People who are better skiers wouldn't be able to recognize an intermediate groomer if it bit them on the ass? 

 

From what I've seen, most people on this site, even the most experienced and knowledgeable, are very helpful to those less experienced or knowledgeable, as long as the questions are at least minimally coherent and the feedback provided is not ignored.  Maybe that should be especially the most experienced and knowledgeable are helpful.  So I don't quite understand your response.

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowObstacle View Post
 


So...

 

OP shouldn't be bothering all those "dedicated" skiers with questions relating to less august concerns?  People who are better skiers wouldn't be able to recognize an intermediate groomer if it bit them on the ass? 

 

From what I've seen, most people on this site, even the most experienced and knowledgeable, are very helpful to those less experienced or knowledgeable, as long as the questions are at least minimally coherent and the feedback provided is not ignored.  Maybe that should be especially the most experienced and knowledgeable are helpful.  So I don't quite understand your response.

 

Nice try.

 

From what I've seen on this site, most posters don't read the original post too carefully and tend to immediately respond to what *they* like not what the OP is asking. I've been guilty of that myself. YMMV.

post #9 of 20
Don't be led astray, PearlRiverDad, you'll get lots of useful suggestions. I'd have some except that I haven't skied back east yet.
post #10 of 20

To the OP, listen to what qcanoe recs, he won't steer you wrong. (He lives in Maine.)

post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnL View Post
 

To the OP, listen to what qcanoe recs, he won't steer you wrong. (He lives in Maine.

+1

post #12 of 20

I agree with others, listen to qcanoe's recommendations as well. Now, having said that, my initial Maine response is always, "Sugarloaf." Full disclosure: I've skied there since 1958 {when I was four……road trip from Cannon, where my parents had a ski house}, my wife and I have owned a house there for 30+ years, and our now adult aged kids grew up skiing there, went to HS there, and raced through college there. Sugarloaf has a lot going for it, but the lower intermediate terrain can get a bit crowded, particularly in the spring.  I'm trying to think of it through the eyes of a new seven year old skier, and be objective. But, there's nothing like March at the Loaf. It's the real Maine ski experience. I have had anywhere from 50 to 80 days a season, on snow there for…..a long time. 

 

I have another idea, though, and it's a different one. Maine has some small areas that are truly gems, and if the primary focus is for you to spend some fun time on snow with your son, I might try to spend a couple of days at a place like Mt. Abram, and then spend a day at Sunday River. You could stay in Bethel; Mt. Abram is about 10 minutes south. Sunday River is 15 minutes in the other direction. Mt. Abram is open Thursday through Sunday, I believe. Or, you could spend a Saturday and Sunday at Mt. Abram, and then ski at Sunday River on a Monday when it will be relatively deserted, compared to a busy weekend. SR can get real crowded, and if you don't have the local knowledge to ski where the crowds aren't forming, it, IMO, can be be "busy". There are a lot of trail intersections.You would have none of that on a Monday. Just a thought.  I find that my friends who are long time SR regulars have a very different opinion of SR on a weekend, than do the occasional skiers. I probably have 300+ days on snow there and I still can get out of sync, and feel like I need a head on a swivel. Not my wife's favorite, and she's a great skier. 

 

Black Mountain, in Rumford, is also about a half hour from Bethel. Another small, neat area. I've had friends make this type of long weekend with young, "new" skiers and it's worked out well. You do a day at Mt Abram, one there, and one at the "big mountain", SR. You can Google any of these places, look at trail maps and get a feel for their size. Mt. Abram and Black will be very friendly on the budget. One word of caution. It's been a somewhat lean snow year…but that usually turns around in February and March. 

 

If you have thought about having your son do some lesson time, I would just head right to Sugarloaf for the entire trip, and put him in the Mountain Magic program in the AM, then pick him up, have lunch, and ski in the afternoon. Maybe if you do a three day trip, ski together on all of day three, and make that a Monday. SL tends to clear out quite a bit on Sunday PM, and on weekdays. 

 

Qcanoe will probably weigh in on Saddleback, as well. Great place. The mountain has a real New England feel. It's pretty special. I'm out of touch with weekend crowds over the past couple of years there, for the most part. We tend to make a couple of midweek trips a year there, it's real quiet, and I love it. I think that on average most the trails might be a bit more demanding than what you're looking for, but It could be that I'm more dialed into the other stuff there. It has a ton of great skiing.  It's a real gem. An easy hour from Sugarloaf, if you wanted to break things up, though.  Also has a base lodge that we think is tremendous. 

 

Sounds like a neat trip. Have fun. 


Edited by Muleski - 2/11/14 at 7:53am
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by PearlRiverDad View Post
 

Can anyone recommend best mountain in Maine? I am an intermediate and my son who is 7 just started. Groomers are very important. We would love something that doesn't get extremely packed on the weekend. Please let me know. Thanks!!

 

Paging @qcanoe for advice about Maine.

post #14 of 20

Saddleback.

post #15 of 20

Hey. Flattered by all the deference (thanks, folks), but really I have no magic knowledge on this topic that others like Muleski don't have too. His suggestions were excellent.

 

I would just point out a few things that may not have been highlighted already:

 

1) OP, I read one of your similar posts elsewhere, and see that you are from the NYC area. Before you plan a trip to ski in Maine, do your homework with Google Maps and make sure you understand the drive times involved. To give you an idea, I live in the Portland area and it takes ME about 2.5 hours to get to Sugarloaf or Saddleback.

 

2) Just because Maine areas can seem like they're located close to Hudson Bay, to someone from New Jersey, that doesn't mean that they're automatically free from crowding. Believe it or not, people live here, and a lot of us ski. Pretty much every Highlander and Audi wagon from the Portland suburbs can be found in the lot at Sugarloaf on a sunny Saturday. (And many of the ones from greater Boston are at the River.)

 

3) The real answer to your question, as Muleski more or less said, is that if you are really determined to increase your quality on-snow time, you gotta do everything in your power to ski on days that are NOT Saturday. (I think you specifically mentioned Saturdays in your other post.) At every east coast area I've ever visited, going back 46 years, Saturday is ALWAYS the busiest day of the week, BY FAR. If you must ski on a weekend, Sunday is generally better than Saturday. Some people arrive late because they're hung over, skied-out, and/or going to church. Many more leave early to get home at a reasonable hour. This is especially true at remote areas like the Loaf because it's a very long drive home if you live in the Boston area.

 

4) How you choose an area to avoid crowds depends partly on what kind of crowding you tolerate better / worse. In my case, I will take a crowded lift corral over a crowded hill any day. Therefore I tend to pick areas like Mt. Abram and Saddleback, which have limited uphill capacity. On the other hand, if you are more concerned with lift lines than with crowded slopes, an area like Sunday River, that has lots of high-speed lifts, would be a better choice.

 

5) For pure groomer skiing in Maine, Sunday River is the obvious choice. Sugarloaf is second. (IMO Sugarloaf's groomers tend toward being either on the steep side or the flat side, with a dearth of the kind of easy blue runs that attract people in droves to places like Okemo, Mt. Snow, Stratton, and Loon, for example.) Saddleback has several very nice groomers. It also has a superb beginner area. But generally speaking you don't go all the way to Saddleback to ski groomed trails; you go there to ski the natural snow terrain, which is as good as any in the northeast. You can read my "Unofficial Guide" FMI.

post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnL View Post
 

Nice try.

 

What is it you think I was trying to do?

 

From what I've seen on this site, most posters don't read the original post too carefully and tend to immediately respond to what *they* like not what the OP is asking. I've been guilty of that myself. YMMV.

 

As it does. See muleski and qcanoe's posts in this thread for examples. It's an open forum, so of course the quality (and relevance) of responses vary.  I'll stand by what I said.  And I don't think it's particularly helpful to steer those with less experience away from asking questions here.

post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowObstacle View Post

Nice try.

 

What is it you think I was trying to do?

 

Quite frankly, be a dick.

 

From what I've seen on this site, most posters don't read the original post too carefully and tend to immediately respond to what *they* like not what the OP is asking. I've been guilty of that myself. YMMV.

 

As it does. See muleski and qcanoe's posts in this thread for examples. It's an open forum, so of course the quality (and relevance) of responses vary.  I'll stand by what I said.  And I don't think it's particularly helpful to steer those with less experience away from asking questions here.

 

And when I posted my reply, there were only one-word answers to the OP. Hence my warning to the OP.

 

Enough of this "conversation." And I'm glad the OP got a few good answers.

post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post
 

Hey. Flattered by all the deference (thanks, folks), but really I have no magic knowledge on this topic that others like Muleski don't have too. His suggestions were excellent.

 

I would just point out a few things that may not have been highlighted already:

 

1) OP, I read one of your similar posts elsewhere, and see that you are from the NYC area. Before you plan a trip to ski in Maine, do your homework with Google Maps and make sure you understand the drive times involved. To give you an idea, I live in the Portland area and it takes ME about 2.5 hours to get to Sugarloaf or Saddleback.

 

2) Just because Maine areas can seem like they're located close to Hudson Bay, to someone from New Jersey, that doesn't mean that they're automatically free from crowding. Believe it or not, people live here, and a lot of us ski. Pretty much every Highlander and Audi wagon from the Portland suburbs can be found in the lot at Sugarloaf on a sunny Saturday. (And many of the ones from greater Boston are at the River.)

 

3) The real answer to your question, as Muleski more or less said, is that if you are really determined to increase your quality on-snow time, you gotta do everything in your power to ski on days that are NOT Saturday. (I think you specifically mentioned Saturdays in your other post.) At every east coast area I've ever visited, going back 46 years, Saturday is ALWAYS the busiest day of the week, BY FAR. If you must ski on a weekend, Sunday is generally better than Saturday. Some people arrive late because they're hung over, skied-out, and/or going to church. Many more leave early to get home at a reasonable hour. This is especially true at remote areas like the Loaf because it's a very long drive home if you live in the Boston area.

 

4) How you choose an area to avoid crowds depends partly on what kind of crowding you tolerate better / worse. In my case, I will take a crowded lift corral over a crowded hill any day. Therefore I tend to pick areas like Mt. Abram and Saddleback, which have limited uphill capacity. On the other hand, if you are more concerned with lift lines than with crowded slopes, an area like Sunday River, that has lots of high-speed lifts, would be a better choice.

 

5) For pure groomer skiing in Maine, Sunday River is the obvious choice. Sugarloaf is second. (IMO Sugarloaf's groomers tend toward being either on the steep side or the flat side, with a dearth of the kind of easy blue runs that attract people in droves to places like Okemo, Mt. Snow, Stratton, and Loon, for example.) Saddleback has several very nice groomers. It also has a superb beginner area. But generally speaking you don't go all the way to Saddleback to ski groomed trails; you go there to ski the natural snow terrain, which is as good as any in the northeast. You can read my "Unofficial Guide" FMI.

 

All of this, and  I would throw in a recommendation for Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, ME. Even on a Saturday there is a very good balance between uphill and downhill capacity. Another plus is how compact the base area is. It's easy to duck in to the lodge for lunch/cocoa/etc.

 

It's a solidly blue mountain with a good ski school. It's also not as long of a drive as Sugarloaf or Saddleback.

 

It's also about 45 miles from Sunday River if you want to split days between the 2 mountains.

post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnL View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowObstacle View Post

Nice try.

 

What is it you think I was trying to do?

 

Quite frankly, be a dick.

 

From what I've seen on this site, most posters don't read the original post too carefully and tend to immediately respond to what *they* like not what the OP is asking. I've been guilty of that myself. YMMV.

 

As it does. See muleski and qcanoe's posts in this thread for examples. It's an open forum, so of course the quality (and relevance) of responses vary.  I'll stand by what I said.  And I don't think it's particularly helpful to steer those with less experience away from asking questions here.

 

And when I posted my reply, there were only one-word answers to the OP. Hence my warning to the OP.

 

Enough of this "conversation." And I'm glad the OP got a few good answers.


Perhaps I jumped to a conclusion I should not have.  Your post seemed at first glance to fit with other posts I've seen here with a flavor of "if you're not good enough, go elsewhere."

 

If that's not the way you meant it, my apologies.  No dickishness intended.

post #20 of 20

Mt Abram came to mind first when he said 7 y.o., groomers and no crowds. This area is a true classic. They have a new lodge because the old one burned down a few years back, but they still have the 'Way Back Machine' and all the Rocky and Bullwinkle references. The village of Bryant Pond is about as true Maine as you'll see anywhere and Sunday River is just around the corner for midweek excursions if desired.

 

Saddleback is really nice, town and ski area, but maybe a bit more prone to cold than Abram; it is above the surrounding countryside rather than tucked into it like Abram.

 

Both are classics and will likely please.

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