Favorite Places in Maine: Sugarloaf Mountain

Joni Averill pauses at Sugarloaf with a mountainous panorama behind her.
Joni Averill pauses at Sugarloaf with a mountainous panorama behind her.
Posted Jan. 19, 2011, at 6:38 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:29 p.m.

How do you choose a favorite place in Maine when Maine is your favorite place? It’s not easy, but after a lot of soul-searching, this native Mainer born and raised in our western mountains decided it would have to be a place most constant in my life: Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley, the one place I have always returned to.

Although I learned to ski in the ’40s at Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton and spent most of my youth skiing the White Mountains of New Hampshire, when Sugarloaf really got up and running in the ’60s, my dad had us up there and loving every minute of it, especially the Tote Road trail.

Even today, it’s my favorite, especially since the infamous Chicken Pitch has been widened and because it’s such a wonderful, long sail downhill.

From the top of the mountain where, on a clear day, you can see Mount Washington and look down on another of my old ski haunts, Sunday River in Newry, to the bottom, Tote Road is a bit of pure Maine heaven.

It’s a feeling of complete freedom and absolute joy to swish down that hill and feel the beauty that is winter.

I’m pleased to say I’ve skied just about every Sugarloaf trail, including double black diamonds, the snowfields and glades, and I still love a good, smooth run down the famous Narrow Gauge trail, the only Federation de Ski-certified course in the East.

But as an older and wiser season-pass holder with nothing left to prove, I now choose my trails carefully, take it a bit easier, and relish the fact I’m still out there, on the hill, skiing.

And as much as I love our lakes and our fabulous coast, Sugarloaf is my Maine touchstone.

For a mountain girl who has now spent the majority of her life in Bangor, at sea level, it is driving up Route 27, through the white birches along the Carrabassett River, and rounding Oh My Gosh Corner, that tells me I’m home.

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