One of my favorite books of last year was “Powder: The Greatest Ski Runs on the Planet” by Patrick Thorne. A lavish, coffeetable-ready hardcover published by Quercus Books, it runs down 50 famous (and infamous) ski runs from Alaska to New Zealand. What I enjoyed the most about the book was that it wasn’t focused only on the most difficult runs – it features trails that are legendary for many reasons, from location to length and even the views.

Seeing as the book spans the globe, it’s some small comfort that the Northeast got not one but two mentions. Maine isn’t among the 50 runs in “Powder,” but Goat at Stowe, Vermont, and Le Crete at Quebec’s Mont-Sainte-Anne each received some ink.

Reading “Powder” got me thinking about the iconic runs of Maine, particularly since Thorne didn’t deign to choose any. If you were to name the trails that most illustrate Maine skiing, what would you pick? Would you go for the steep and scary? The wide cruisers? The best view? I’m sure that if you posed the question to 10 Maine skiers you’d get at least 11 different lists.

In that spirit, here’s my not-so-humble list of Maine’s must-ski runs. Think of the list as something akin to a greatest hits record – sure, there are greater B-sides and deep album cuts to be found, but these are Maine’s must-ski runs.

(In the interest of fairness, no mountain gets more than one trail on the list.)

SUGARLOAF offers a wealth of options, from the miles-long cruiser Tote Road, to the glades of the Eastern Territory, to the snowfields that top its iconic logo. However, no trail says Sugarloaf to me quite like Widowmaker. Perfectly cut, steep and falling away from the King Pine Bowl toward the rest of the mountain, it’s a trail I could ski all day and never tire of.

At SUNDAY RIVER there are almost too many runs to pick from, with 135 trails spread across eight peaks. Since Sunday River has always struck me as a mountain with a best-in-class handle on marketing – remember those radio ads with John O’Hurley? – White Heat stands out to me. The trail is a beast, to be sure, but I always like the pitch as the longest, widest, steepest lift-serviced trail in the Northeast. There are longer trails, wider trails and steeper trails, but none beat Sunday River at the combo.

I think of Casablanca as the trail that fits my image of SADDLEBACK, which is strange only because it’s a relatively new addition to the mountain. The Casablanca Glades are a massive 44-acre playground, mixing tight chutes and fairly wide-open steeps. Opened in 2010, the glades are a big part of the Kennebago Steeps, pitched by Saddleback as the “largest steep skiing and riding facility in the East.”

At CAMDEN SNOW BOWL, Lookout provides a view you can’t get anywhere else – the Atlantic Ocean and the islands beyond Camden Harbor, spread out like a canvas. It’s a view you can get from a few places on the hill, but best experienced on the appropriately named Lookout, which swings to a skier’s right from the summit,, and offers both steeps and scenery.

I’d argue that Bull Moose at LOST VALLEY is emblematic of Maine skiing, although that comes with a bit of a caveat. To really get the full experience, you’ve got to ski the trail on a weekday afternoon, when hundreds from school ski groups descend on the mountain. Kids swarm all over the trails and fill the lift, which runs over Bull Moose. It’s iconic in the sense that it shows the importance of Maine’s community hills in growing the sport, and gives any skier an experience akin to those of us who learned to ski this way.

To round out a list of Maine’s must-ski runs, the state’s cross-country ski facilities need to be given their due. Maine does, after all, have an impressive Nordic skiing heritage, developing local ski legends like Chummy Broomhall and Bob Pidacks, training generations of Olympians, and playing host to international championships. Of Maine’s 20-plus cross country facilities, PINELAND FARMS offers an incredible variety with more than 5,000 acres developed for outdoor recreation. The River Loop, named for the Royal River, tours skiers across bucolic fields, through forests and over two scenic bridges. In addition to being a beautiful trail, the River Loop (and the rest of Pineland’s network) is impeccably groomed, and fit for classic and skate skiing.

So, there you have it – six trails in Maine you should ski in your lifetime and probably hit this winter. But we all know the old saying about what “opinions are like,” which can’t be repeated in these family-friendly pages. Like all lists, I hope this encourages discussion and debate, be it on, in my email inbox or among friends on the chairlift.

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:

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