With snow almost completely gone from the coast and quickly disappearing in the rest of the state, we’ve reached the last days of the ski season. You’re probably tempted to throw in the towel now. But wait! Backed up by spring storms and dedicated fans, a number of New England mountains still have some life left in them.
Saddleback, Sugarloaf and Sunday River will all be open next weekend to celebrate Easter. Up in Rangeley, Saddleback is marking the occasion with an Easter brunch at 8:30 a.m. This will be followed by a morning service at the top of the Rangeley Chair, led by The Rev. Peter Panagore, at 10. The morning is rounded out by an 11 a.m. egg hunt, complete with prizes. The top prize? A 2014-2015 season pass for whoever finds the Golden Egg.
Easter starts early at Sugarloaf, with a 5 a.m. sunrise service on the mountain that meets and loads at the superquad. The Easter Bunny will hold court on Easter morning, painting eggs and having an all-ages meet-and-greet in the King Pine Room. From 9 to 10, there’s a scavenger hunt planned for children aged 8-12, with prizes going to all participants. And, of course, there’s the famous Sugarloaf Easter Parade at 11. This is another event with prizes attached, with awards going to participants in categories like “most outrageous costume” and “Spirit of Sugarloaf.”
Sunday River also has an Easter sunrise service, though it kicks off a bit later than at Sugarloaf. The Rev. Donald Coverdale, gospel singer Cynthia Clark-Bulger and the Sunday River Christian Ministry lead the service, which starts at 7 a.m. There’s also an Easter egg hunt planned, which takes place around the South Ridge base area and kicks off at 9 a.m. The Easter bunny will also be at Sunday River (that guy gets around) and will be joined by resort mainstays Eddy and Betty Yeti.
After Easter weekend, things do quiet down quite a bit. Saddleback has closed down operations during the week, and April 20 will be the resort’s last day of operation for the season. Hours are scaled back a bit too, it’s worth noting, with the resort operating from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
At Sugarloaf, where the season tends to stretch the longest, it’s likely the resort will remain open until late April or early May. Operations do scale back to five lifts during the week – outlying lifts like King Pine and Whiffletree, for example, will only run on the weekend – but there’s still access to Sugarloaf’s terrain for those willing to traverse.
Having skied at Sugarloaf earlier this week, I can confidently say it’s still worth the trip. There’s lots of cover left on the mountains, and the backside snowfields are as good as I can remember them being in years.
Sunday River still has a week left of fight, planning on operating until April 21. The conditions on the hill have been, as Sunday River’s snow reporters put it, “spring skiing perfection.”
The resort’s famously well-crafted manmade snow (juiced by some help from Mother Nature) has held up well to rising temperatures, and should carry the mountain through its closing with lots of terrain. Like Sugarloaf, you can expect fewer lifts operating at Sunday River midweek. Sunday River also celebrates the end of its (incredibly long) season with free lift tickets for all skiers on the last day, April 21. It also happens to be Patriot’s Day, so if you’ve got the day off already there’s really no reason not to go.
As in Maine, closing days seem about a week away in the rest of New England. While many resorts in neighboring New Hampshire have closed, Cannon and Loon both plan on operating through Easter Sunday. Bretton Woods will hold on a bit longer, closing April 21. Over in the Green Mountain State, Stowe will remain open through the 20th. Jay Peak hasn’t released a closing day yet, but its season often runs into early May.
If you’re still jonesing for skiing and riding once all the lifts close down, there’s always Tuckerman Ravine. The White Mountain cirque often has plenty of snow to ski right into early July. The easiest access to the slopes is via a 2.4-mile hike of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, which is accessible from Route 16 in Pinkham Notch. If you’ve never skied the Ravine before, make sure you head in with a more experienced buddy. Despite the ease of access, it is true backcountry skiing on some very steep slopes.
It’s with a somewhat heavy heart that, once again, I end my “Skiing in Maine” columns for the season. Thankfully, Maine is no slouch in the warm-weather sports department.
I’ll return with “Worth the Trip” in a few weeks, profiling the best Maine hiking, biking and weekend destinations.
Josh Christie is a freelance writer and lifetime outdoors enthusiast. He shares column space in Outdoors with his father, John Christie. Josh can be contacted at: