Sugarloaf offers families big mountain adventures along with small town comforts.
Located in Carrabassett Valley in Maine’s western mountains, Sugarloaf is the second largest ski resort east of the Mississippi. This beautiful mountain rises 4,237 feet high and offers 162 trails, 13 lifts, and three terrain parks.
I have skied with my family at several ski mountains, big and small, and we feel most at home at Sugarloaf. My 11-year old daughter and my 9-year son can navigate the many trails and lifts with ease. Take the Super Quad to Timberline to enjoy 360-degree views of the mountains, including Mount Washington and Mount Katahdin, on a clear day. Then ski down our favorite run, Tote Road, a cruiser over three miles long.
On the other, quieter side of the mountain, the Whiffletree Lift takes you to a junior-sized terrain park perfect for kids, and Moose Alley, a family favorite with its hidden bridges and tiny log cabins.
Sugarloaf meets all of your skiing and boarding needs with everything from a nice, flat beginners’ area with a magic carpet to dozens of double-black diamonds. Lift lines always seem manageable, even on the sunniest spring weekends. Sugarloaf strikes the perfect balance between big mountain adventure and small town charm. The kids have a blast, and mom isn’t too stressed.
What to do besides skiing?
The most popular non-ski activity at Sugarloaf is the Anti-Gravity Complex, located at the bottom of the access road. The AGC includes an indoor skate park, climbing wall, and trampolines. Day pass cost: Youth $6; Adult $9; skateboarding lessons are available for $45/hour.
KidTripster Tip: A Sugarloaf lift ticket gives you full access to Nordic and snowshoe trails and the ice skating rink for the day.
Where to stay?
My family and I stayed in the Sugartree Condominiums, right at the base of the mountain with ski-in/ski-out access. The convenience of having a kitchen (which allowed us to bring and cook most of our own food), access to the outdoor hot tubs and indoor pool, and the on-mountain location made this condo worth the splurge. Condos start at $575/night.
If you can forgive the slightly outdated décor, our condo was perfectly cozy with enough sleeping space for the kids, gas fireplace, and convenient entry with plenty of hooks for drying ski gear. Other Sugartree amenities included an indoor parking garage, ski lockers, and a fitness room with a sauna and steam room.
Where to eat?
We packed and cooked many of our own meals, which I highly recommend. Skiing "home" for grilled cheese sandwiches and letting your boots warm up by the fire gave us the perfect chance to recharge.
On the mountain, lunch stop favorites for Sugarloafers include The Bag and Kettle (pub fare) and Gepetto’s (Italian). Bullwinkle's Bistro on the mountain and just below the Timberline Lift is the best stop for a mid-afternoon snack or hot cocoa on the deck.
We enjoyed one night out at Widowmaker in the Base Lodge. The classic après ski ambience included a live band and many happy, rosy-cheeked dancers, including my breakdancing son. My husband and I ate delicious burgers served with little mountains of fries; the kids had a BLT and chicken fingers. Everyone left satisfied.
KidTripster Tip: On Saturday nights at the Base Lodge, kids (ages 5 to 10) can attend "Kids’ Night Out" (translation: parents eat dinner without kids!) including a movie, pizza, games, and activities. Cost: $15.
Sugarloaf is easily accessible on pretty, winding roads from all points in northern New England. It’s about a 2-hour drive from Bangor and Portland and a 4-hour drive from Boston.