December 1, 2022
Pleasant Mountain has returned to its original name. The Bridgton ski resort, known since the 1980s as Shawnee Peak, announced that it will return to its roots and be known once again as Pleasant Mountain. This was the name of the resort when the first trail was cut in 1936 and remained so for many decades. The name-change was made to honor the 84-year history of the ski area, as well as the mountain it calls home, and a new Pleasant Mountain logo and website have been unveiled to mark the occasion. In 1936, the state’s Civilian Conservation Corps cleared a single ski trail on the western slope of Pleasant Mountain. It was Maine’s first ski resort. Boyne Resorts acquired Shawnee Peak in October of 2021, and is part of the company’s collection of New England resorts, including Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine. Located less than an hour’s drive from Portland, it offers the most night skiing terrain in New England. Visit Pleasant Mountain.
Sunday River is opening The Jordan 8 this season, the fastest 8-person chairlift in North America and the next step in the Sunday River 2030 plan. This Doppelmayr D-Line design is the most advanced in the world and features ergonomic heated seats, Sunday River red bubbles, and the ultimate wind resistance. The chair will access terrain on Jordan Bowl and beyond. This part of the resort will come to be known as the Western Reserve as future terrain development plans come to life.
Sugarloaf has announced the purchase of the Herbert Grand Hotel in Kingfield, which will provide expanded housing opportunities for Sugarloaf staff members beginning this season. Sugarloaf will also invest in substantial snowmaking upgrades that will increase snowmaking capacity by roughly 75%. It will continue work on its West Mountain development, with initial construction expected to begin in late 2022 or early 2023. This will see the development of roughly 450 acres on West Mountain with a new lift, new alpine trails with snowmaking, and roughly 200 new slopeside, ski-in/ski-out residences. The new chairlift is a high-speed detachable quad and is expected to be installed in the summer of 2023. The lift, formerly the Swift Current Quad from Big Sky Resort, will be wholly retrofitted and rebuilt by Doppelmayr, and will feature a new drive, motor, electrical systems, and haul rope when it is installed at Sugarloaf.
Saddleback Mountain has been named the 2022 Readers’ Choice for “Best Ski Mountain in Maine by Down East Magazine. Located in Rangeley, in the heart of the Western Maine High Peaks region, Saddleback Mountain opened in 1960 and has a reputation for exceptional snow, some of the best terrain in the East, and friendly, laid-back culture. At 4,120 feet of elevation and 2,000 feet of vertical, Saddleback is Maine’s third-largest mountain and the largest independently owned ski resort in the East. Since re-opening in 2020, Saddleback has invested millions of dollars in mountain improvements, including new lift and snowmaking infrastructure, a renovated base lodge, a new Mid Mountain Lodge, slopeside employee housing, more on-mountain lodging, mountain bike trails, and a solar farm.
Skijoring at Somerset Snowfest
Skijor Skowhegan: Northeast Equestrian Skijoring Regionals is Maine’s first and New England’s only equestrian skijoring competition. In this team time-trial race, a horse and rider pull a snowboarder or alpine skier down a 1,000-foot track of gates and jumps. Competitors will be competing for cash prizes, swag, and bragging rights. The event happens on Saturday, February 25, 2023, 11 a.m. at the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds. There will also be other events, like the Kids Box Sled Derby, Ice Hole World Championships and a Downhill Kayak Race along with Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides and a Bigelow Beer Garden. Go to Somerset Snowfest for more information.
Maine is one of the major snowmobiling destinations in the Lower 48, offering challenging terrain, reliable snow and some true wilderness riding conditions. There are 280 local snowmobile clubs that help to maintain more than 14,000 miles of marked snowmobile trails. While there is riding all over the state, and prime sledding terrain can be found in the Jackman-Moose River area, the Moosehead Lake and the Rangeley Lakes region, the Millinocket and Katahdin area and the far north of Aroostook County. There are dozens of outfitters, sporting camps, and resorts that offer rentals, overnight stays, and guided sled tours. Go to Visit Maine for details.
By January, Maine is reliably snow-covered, and its many cross-country trails have been groomed into pristine condition. In Bethel, not far from Sunday River, both Carter’s X-C Ski Center offers miles of groomed trails for skiers of all abilities. In the far north of the state, the Fort Kent Outdoor Center in Fort Kent and the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle offer comfortable lodges, groomed trails, and ski rentals. Maine has farm-to-ski spots like Pineland Farms in New Gloucester that offer groomed trails, ski rentals, skiing lessons and a popular farm market and a deli. Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook is part of Greater Portland and has groomed trails, ski rentals and even on-site cheese making. Harris Farm, a large dairy and vegetable farm in the southern Maine town of Dayton, offers groomed trails, ski rentals, and a sledding hill. The farm even allows you to bring your dog skiing on certain days (weather dependent – call ahead). AMC has three wilderness camps that offer cross-country skiing: Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins, Gorman Chairback Lodge & Cabins , and Medawisla Lodge & Cabins. The lodges offer different sleeping options (bunkhouses, cabins) and include lodge-cooked meals. For information on additional ski areas and on ski conditions, check out Ski Maine.
Dogsledding in Maine
No winter experience can compare with dogsledding, a thrilling ride through the woods being pulled by a well-trained pack of sled dogs. Various Maine outfitters can get you into the wilds on a sled dog adventure. In the Maine Lakes and Mountains region, consider Dogsled Maine, Mahoosuc Guide Service and Ultimate Dog Sledding Experience. In the Maine Highlands region, check out Lone Wolf Guiding Service and Maine Dogsledding Adventures. There’s also the Wilderness Sled Dog Race in Greenville and the Can Am Crown International Sled Dog Races in Fort Kent. Go to Visit Maine for more information.
Winter is the ideal time to cozy up and spend a weekend or a week at a classic Maine inn, along the coast or in the mountains. The Greenville Inn is far up north at Moosehead Lake, which has dog sled races, ice fishing festivals and miles of winter trails. Forty kilometers of cross-country trails are a highlight of a stay at The Bethel Inn Resort in Western Maine, not far from Sunday River ski resort. Kennebunkport’s White Barn Inn offers a sophisticated getaway and fine dining. In Camden, the Camden Harbour Inn opened in 2007, a high-design luxury inn overlooking Camden’s harbor. Just south of Portland in Cape Elizabeth is Inn by the Sea, located on a mile of sandy beach, with 61 luxuriously appointed fireplace rooms, and one and two-bedroom suites. Cliff House is set on the edge of the Atlantic on the rocky coast of Ogunquit, with panoramic ocean and coastal views from 226 guest rooms and suites. For more info, go to Visit Maine.
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