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February 19, 2020

Sugarloaf, following two other top Maine ski resorts, unveils expansion plans

Courtesy / Sugarloaf Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, one of two Maine ski resorts owned by Boyne Resorts, announced a 10-year expansion. Sunday River, Boyne's other resort, announced a similar expansion earlier this month.
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Sugarloaf ski resort has announced a 10-year plan that includes developing nearly 450 acres on the West Mountain area of the resort, with not only upgrades for skiing but real estate development, technology improvements and other changes to support year-round business on the mountain.

Owners Boyne Resorts said in a news release that the "Sugarloaf 2030 Road Map" is one of the most transformative projects in the Carrabassett Valley resort's 70 years. With the West Mountain expansion as the centerpiece, the plan builds on 2010's Sugarloaf 2020 plan. Goals include better on-mountain experiences, resort enhancements and fostering year-round vitality and sustainability.

The expansion is expected to begin this summer with planning, permitting and the beginning of trail expansion.

“This will be the most significant project at Sugarloaf since the SuperQuad was built in the mid-1990s,” said Sugarloaf General Manager Karl Strand in a news release. “We’re thankful for leadership of Boyne Resorts, which, over the past 13 years, has helped us get Sugarloaf to a position of growth that allows for development projects like this.”

Sugarloaf, at 4,237 feet, is the second-highest peak in Maine after Katahdin. With a 2,320-foot vertical drop, 1,240 developed skiable acres and 162 trails and glades, the ski resort is one of the largest in the Northeast. Like Saddleback, to the southwest, Sugarloaf is in Franklin County. Maine's second-biggest resort, Sunday River, is in nearby Oxford County.

Sugarloaf's announcement comes as Maine's two other largest ski resorts  announced expansion plans. Saddleback, which is in the Rangeley area and has been closed since 2015, plans a major expansion under new owners. Sunday River, in Newry and also owned by Boyne, announced a 10-year plan earlier this month that also includes year-round attractions, creation of a net-zero carbon impact and infrastructure upgrades.

Courtesy / Sugarloaf
A conceptual map of Sugarloaf's proposed West Mountain expansion shows planned future development area in yellow, new trails in light blue, and proposed lifts and mountain trail bikes.

Ski, summer expansions

The West Mountain expansion will include construction of a high-speed, high-capacity chairlift from a base on West Mountain Road to Bullwinkle’s restaurant, and will be accompanied by "significant new trail development" and snowmaking infrastructure, as well as a new eight-lane tubing park, according to the release.

The development will "greatly expand" Sugarloaf’s beginner and intermediate trail offerings, and will shift significant amounts of skier traffic from the SuperQuad, Sugarloaf’s busiest chairlift. Three will also be new parking lots that will add space for as many as 450 cars.

Plans to support summer business include a lift-serviced mountain bike park and renovation of now-seasonal Bullwinkle’s that will allow it to operate through the off-season, hosting wedding and conference guests.

The project also calls for 75 new residential real estate lots, providing needed inventory for a tight local market, the release said.

The West Mountain expansion is expected to take place over the next five years. Planning, permitting and initial trail cutting will happen this summer, and construction of the new lift is expected to begin in 2021.

Also beginning this summer will be construction of a 4,600-square-foot spa in the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel, installation of new dual-frequency radio identification pass and ticketing technology, and snowmaking investments including a new dam on Caribou Pond, the water source for Sugarloaf’s snowmaking system.

The plan also includes five new or upgraded chairlifts and rehabilitation of the former gondola terminal on the summit of the mountain.

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