Skiing Saddleback is like being let in on the biggest skiing secret in New England. This is a place where you can ski everything from cruisers to glades, lift lines don’t exist, ticket prices are low and everyone is friendly. Because of this I am surprised that most of the skiers I know have never been there. My friends and I recently chose Saddleback for our annual ski trip and we can’t wait to go back.
I arrived at Saddleback, in Rangeley Maine, on a Friday night after driving 5.5 hours through the NH and Maine wilderness with no idea of what to expect. At this point in the season I had only skied at Vermont resorts where I paid over $70 for a lift ticket and waited up to 45 minutes in lift lines. I went to sleep, in our ski in/ ski out condo, dreaming of uncrowded slopes.
I awoke in awe of the beauty of the Rangeley area. I could see expansive lakes surrounded by endless mountains and that was just the view from our condo! We quickly suited up and skied to the rustic base lodge where we were able to walk right up to the counter to get our lift tickets from employees who greeted us with a smile. At many bigger resorts buying a lift ticket is only the first of many lines.
We then skied directly onto the chairlift which is impossible at most big resorts.
Saddleback has 5 total lifts with 1 double that goes to mid-mountain and a quad that goes from mid-mountain to the summit. There are no gondolas, bubble canopies or high speed lifts. The lift ride might be slow but the lack of lines more than makes up for it. After all what good is a lift that can get you to the summit in 6 minutes if you need to wait 30 minutes to get on it?
What Saddleback lacks in lifts, it makes up for in terrain, atmosphere and amenities. It has 66 trails, 2,000 vertical feet, a modern base lodge and ski-in/ ski-out lodging, Lift tickets are also below $60, the staff is extraordinarily friendly and crowds are nowhere to be found. How many New England mountains have you skied which offer this combination of features?
Our group had snowboarders and skiers of all ability levels and everyone found something to love at Saddleback. The advanced skiers explored the glades and bumpy black diamond runs while the intermediate skiers cruised down blue trails like Gray Ghost. The beginner skiers in our group were also able to take a lesson and then explore Saddleback’s 4 miles of beginner trails. I know that many mountains have variety like this but what I liked about Saddleback is that every trail essentially leads to the main base lodge. This is great because it makes it easy to find your friends if they take a different trail.
The people at Saddleback are friendly, the terrain is challenging, the prices are low and the scenery is breathtaking. What more could you ask for in a ski area? Go check out Saddleback!