Outdoor enthusiasts have been flocking to Sugarloaf and Sunday River resorts during the winter months for years to enjoy some of the best skiing in the east.
Over the coming months officials at both winter wonderlands hope visitors will head to the mountains in order to sample some new summer fare.
Looking for action? Want to try something new? Sugarloaf and Sunday River may just have what you’re looking for.
Let’s start over in Newry, where Darcy Liberty, Sunday River’s director of communications, says the resort is ready for a very busy summer.
Liberty said downhill mountain biking, as well as mountain biking on the resort’s trail system, was already a staple of the summer lineup. This summer a new skills park will be unveiled and riders can take advantage of 30 miles of terrain. And the trails from the top range in difficulty and are suited to a wide variety of riders, thanks in part to the new beginner trail added this year.
New this year: A geocaching program that is already up and running, and zip line tours that will begin in August.
Liberty said that geocaching, a high-tech scavenger hunt that takes advantage of GPS technology, was a natural addition to the resort’s summer offerings.
“We already have hiking terrain at Sunday River for our guests. We have about 12 miles of designated trail that covers all of our eight interconnected peaks,” Liberty said. “Adding — geocaching was a way that we could add a little something else to the hiking experience.”
Sunday River has set up 11 “caches,” and GPS units are available for rent at Sunday River Sports, Liberty said.
Also on tap: Scenic chondola rides on the resort’s combination chairlift-gondola. Mountain bikers and hikers can also use the chondola to access North Peak and its trails.
Liberty said that over the past as many as 200 regulars have headed to Sunday River to mountain bike each weekend, and she hopes more day-use visitors stop by to try out the trails.
The chondola’s chairs have bike racks attached, and visitors can carry their bikes to the top of North Peak and ride down the trails.
And the zip lines, which won’t be ready until August, will give riders a chance to soar above the mountain and check out the sights.
Zip lines are pulleys mounted on cables on an incline. Riders wearing special harnesses ride the cable from one set point to the other.
Liberty said the five zip lines will range from 100 to 300 feet long, and likely will be from 30 to 50 feet off the ground. They will operate during both summer and winter seasons.
“We’re really excited to put in zip lines. This is something that we’ve been working with our parent company, Boyne, on for a number of years,” Liberty said.
Downhill mountain biking via the chondola and scenic chondola rides will be available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until Columbus Day.
Riders can buy an all-day lift pass for $29 ($18 for those age 12 and under). Trail-access only passes are available for $10 per day.
Scenic lift passes cost $12 for those 13 and older, $10 for ages 6-12, and free for anyone who has reached their 80th birthday or who hasn’t reached their sixth birthday.
Zip-line fees have not been set.
“Our goal is to become a four-season resort,” Liberty said. “Between the skiing and riding that we offer in the winter, activities like geocaching, mountain biking and golf that we offer in the summer, and connecting the off-seasons of spring and fall with business conferences and meetings, we’re definitely on our way to becoming a four-season resort.”
Over at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, director of sales and marketing Brad Larsen is also eager to unveil the resort’s zip line facility.
Sugarloaf will also open its zip lines sometime in August, he said.
“It’s one of Boyne’s initiatives to try and have zip lines at as many of its resorts as possible,” Larsen said. “It’s just been a great activity for people of all ages and fitness levels.”
Larsen said the zip lines that are being installed range from 200 to 400 feet long, and that three to six of the lines will be available after the August opening.
“[The zip lines] come underneath the old gondola line. They’ll be traveling in a wooded area back and forth over the Rookie River,” Larsen said.
Sugarloaf is also offering scenic chair lift rides on weekends from late July through October, Larsen said.
The lift that will be in operation will be the Superquad, which climbs about 1,750 vertical feet, according to Larsen.
Visitors who ride the chair will have an option when they reach the end of the lift, Larsen said.
“Down loading is also available,” he said. “You could ride up, spend some time on the mountain and ride down, or guests are welcome to walk down, if they like.”
Scenic ride passes cost $12 for ages 6 and up, and $10 for season pass holders.
Zip line fees at Sugarloaf have not yet been set.