Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Maine is an enigma. As the largest ski resort east of the Rockies, it’s hard even to tell you the specs of this special place in Maine’s Carabassett Valley since it constantly evolves. How can a place be so rooted in history yet so modernly appealing that people will go out of their way to visit for generations?
You arrive at Sugarloaf as yourself, but you leave as a Sugarloafer. It doesn’t matter what season you enjoy The Loaf — you are now part of a fellowship.
The best part? It’s far enough away from, well, everything — the people who make an effort will earn the Sugarloafer title and their place among Maine’s mountains.
The Sugarloaf Ski Resort Story
In 1950, a group called the “Bileglow Boys” cut the first trail — Winter’s Way. The Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Club was formed in ’51, laying the foundation for the resort’s growth.
The installation of a 700-foot rope tow in 1953 marked the beginning of a lift-served era. Then, the Sugarloaf Mountain Corporation was established in 1955.
1964 brought plans for a gondola and access to the summit at 4,237 feet, second only to Mount Katahdin. After the construction of the Sugarloaf gondola, reaching the summit opened up a world of possibilities for skiers and snowboarders.
A few dry winters made snowmaking mandatory, and that system was in place by 1974. The ’80s and ’90s brought more expansion — including better gondolas and snow-making facilities — while lodging, real estate, and year-round activities took shape.
By 2012, The Loaf was as fun in summer as it was in the dead of winter. Between 2010 and 2020, Sugarloaf doubled in size, and it’s still growing.
Sugarloaf Ski Resort Location
While the remote area might be intimidating, state highways lead to the Sugarloaf entrance. You won’t take those infamous logging roads or backroads to get here. And once you’re here, consider the Sugarloaf Explorer for shuttle services around the resort and village.
Sugarloaf Ski Resort Statistics
Here’s a quick look at The Loaf layout and facts as of the 2023-2024 winter season:
- Ski Trails: 176 (65 miles) — 22% beginner, 32% intermediate, 25% advanced and 21% expert level
- Acres: 1,360
- Vertical Drop: 2,820 feet
- Summit: 4,237 feet
- Lifts: 15 — six of which are quads; all can carry more than 25,000 people per hour
- Average Snowfall: 200 inches
- Snowiest Months: February (37 inches), December (33 inches), and January (28 inches)
- Ski Season: Generally mid-November through early May
An expansion at West Mountain will be a game-changer in the 2024 season, adding 10% more acres to ski when completed. A new chairlift will swoop guests up over 6,500 feet in less than seven minutes.
“This is the most significant development project at Sugarloaf since the SuperQuad was built in the mid-1990s. We’re very excited to get to work on what will be a transformative project for the resort and our guests.”Sugarloaf General Manager Karl Strand
Things to Do at Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Winter
Sugarloaf takes skiing to the next level with many iterations of the activity, including trending fat tire bikes and ski bikes. Check out the maps of the different sections of the resort.
Most of the traditional skiing is done in the central part of the resort. The Snowfields are above the tree line and offer access to some of the most challenging trails on the front and back sides of the mountain.
With more than 31 miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails, you have plenty of options to explore the woods and views of Sugarloaf Mountain. These trails spawn from the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center, the largest of its kind in Maine.
Also at the Outdoor Center, you’ll find an NHL-sized rink to skate the day away. Rentals are available in all sizes, and hockey players can join a pickup game on Thursday nights. The rink is usually open from mid-December through March.
When you’d rather be walking in this winter wonderland, use the Outdoor Center to get snowshoe rentals and explore the trails that way. Night “Snowshoe Safari Tours” are offered every Saturday night.
Please don’t bring your household cat for this one. Explore Burnt Mountain’s side-country trails with a ride on a Cat vehicle designed to tackle the rugged terrain. This is an expert-level adventure through some of the most unforgiving terrain. In a word, it’s epic! One ticket gets you two runs.
Miles of Nordic skiing await, including the Fifty Trail, which is a popular place to spot moose. Bobcat Alley is named for the bobcats, but you’re more likely to see tracks than cats. Be sure to check the trail report before you go and during your adventure.
If skis and a bicycle had a baby, you’d get a Snow-Go Bike. While it’s not quite as easy as riding a bike, you’ll get a free safety lesson before you hop on the ski lift with your trending ride. Only eight are available to rent, so book early.
Fat Tire Bikes
Select trails at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center are ideal for fat biking — like it sounds, a mountain bike with fat wheels to navigate the snow. The trails are groomed daily.
Fat biking is best on firmly packed snow, while skiing is best on fresh powder. That means a bad day to ski is a great day to try out a fat bike and vice versa.
BONUS: Check out the Maine Huts & Trails system for more fat biking opportunities nearby.
Summer Things to Do at Sugarloaf Ski Resort
Activities for the summer usually kick off around Memorial Day and last through mid-October, depending on the weather. The team at Sugarloaf does a great job updating conditions and activities on its Facebook page.
Like the winter has the Nordic Outdoor Center, summer has the Outpost Adventure Center. That’s when several of these activities originate.
Hikers might be surprised to find out how close the Appalachian Trail is to the summit of Sugarloaf. Burnt Mountain and Cranberry Peak are tough hikes but worth the trek for the sensational views along the way.
Once the muddy trails clear up — usually in late May — you can explore over 80 miles of mountain bike trails. You can rent a bike at one of the outfitters nearby, and trails are available for all experience levels. As this is a growing sport in the region, expect to find some gnarly rides.
Scenic Lift Rides
Take one of those high-speed quads through the brilliance of warm weather with greenery, flowers, and wildlife across the mountains and valleys. You get time to explore the mountaintop before the ride back down.
Spend an hour soaring over the woods three stories above the ground on a zip line tour. With peak speeds of 25 mph, this is fun for the whole family. Be sure to book a reservation for this popular activity.
The Sugarloaf Golf Club Course is a prestigious Robert Trent Jones design with 18 holes on a par 72 scenic landscape. Too fancy for you? Try out the disc golf course instead.
Other Things to Do At & Near Sugarloaf Ski Resort
Even when the weather isn’t cooperating outside, you can still have a unique Sugarloaf experience inside.
Some of the best indoor adventures are found here — from trampoline rooms, rock climbing walls, and a massive skate park. Play a game of basketball or get in a workout at the fitness facility too.
Maine’s ski and snowboard history might surprise you, along with the number of Olympians that Vacationland has created. From historical artifacts to interesting stories — like how Sugarloaf made it into Playboy magazine in the 1960s — this Kingfield museum is worth a stop in any season.
“Apres-Ski” Dining at Sugarloaf
DEFINITION: “Apres-ski” is a French phrase that became popular during the 1950s in the Alps and means “after-ski” or “after skiing.”
You’ll find several dining options near Sugarloaf Ski Resort, but we must recommend taking the quad up to Bullwinkle’s for the only on-mountain dining experience. Even if you just get a meal between runs, this is worth the stop, and the Bloody Marys are infamous.
The Widowmaker is the nightlife hot spot at Sugarloaf with live music and a lively place to warm up after a chilly day on the slopes. Several local festivals are headquartered here throughout the year as well.
Too tired apres ski? Order online and take a meal back to your room or lodge. Mountainside Grocers is also right at the entrance to the resort area, so you don’t have to drive back to Kingfield to get grub.
Things to Know for Planning a Sugarloaf Ski Resort Visit
Here are a few ways to maximize your experience at Sugarloaf:
- Look for deals through the Sugarloaf lodging options, including ways to get discounted lift tickets with your stay.
- Sugarloaf now offers a Snow Guarantee, where you can exchange your lift ticket for another day if the snow isn’t epic.
- You’ll need an easy-to-access pocket to carry your GoCard, which allows access to the lifts. DO NOT put your credit card or mobile device in this same pocket.
- There is no night skiing at Sugarloaf. The lifts close by 4 p.m. daily.
- Ikon passes are valid at Sugarloaf Ski Resort
Skiing in Maine All Winter Long
As much as you might assume it’s always snowy in Maine during the winter, that’s not always the case. You should consider a resort that makes its own snow. That way, every day can be a fresh powder day!