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February 16, 2024

Sugarloaf opens West Mountain terrain as part of resort's $104M expansion

snowy hill with trails and chairlift Courtesy / Sugarloaf Sugarloaf’s terrain expansion and chairlift installation are part of the ski resort’s 2030 “road map.”

Sugarloaf has added 120 acres of new terrain and a new high-speed chairlift to the ski resort's West Mountain in Carrabassett Valley. The expansion officially opened Friday morning.

The addition is part of a planned $104.5 million 565-acre expansion that also includes housing, amenities and a network of hiking and biking trails.

“It’s the largest terrain expansion to happen in the Northeast since the late 1970s and to be able to pull this off ahead of vacation week is incredible,” said Karl Strand, the resort’s president and general manager.

Even before the expansion, Sugarloaf was one of the largest ski resorts in the Northeast, with a 2,320-foot vertical drop, 1,240 skiable acres and 162 trails and glades.

The centerpiece of the West Mountain development is a new chairlift called the Bucksaw Express. The Doppelmayr high-speed detachable quad is expected to increase Sugarloaf’s uphill capacity by 2,400 skiers per hour.

The lift will transport skiers and riders up to Bullwinkle’s Restaurant, traveling 6,574 feet and rising 1,433 vertical feet at an expected operating speed of 1,000 feet per minute. Estimated ride time on the lift is 6 minutes 53 seconds.

West Mountain is vulnerable to the elements.  “The location of the lift is intentional,” said Strand. “We recognize and have addressed the need to mitigate windy days and the location of this lift does just that.”

aerial map with overlay of lines and words
Courtesy / Sugarloaf
Ski terrain, a chairlift, housing and amenities are part of Sugarloaf’s expansion through this decade.

The West Mountain development includes the addition of 12 alpine trails, and nine are scheduled to open on Sunday.

‘Progression’ zone

The expansion increases Sugarloaf's total skiable acreage by nearly 10%, and is intended for beginner and intermediate skiers and riders.

“West Mountain creates a new family-friendly zone, something Sugarloaf has needed for quite some time,” said Strand. “The accessibility of the lift and terrain provides a progression platform unlike anything we’ve ever had here.  Our instructors and families will have a separate zone creating confidence and a 'safe' zone, if you will, for beginner and intermediate level skiers.”

Logging for the West Mountain terrain expansion began in early 2023.

The alpine trails are a mix of beginner and intermediate terrain, creating a pod of beginner and family-friendly trails, with nearly 300 acres of developed trails and glades spanning 1,500 vertical feet. 

The trails were cut through 2023 and snowmaking infrastructure was installed on a majority of the new trails last summer, with the remaining snowmaking infrastructure expected to be installed this summer.

2030 road map

The site plan was prepared in 2021 by VHB Inc., a consultant headquartered in Watertown, Mass., with offices in Maine. 

The West Mountain project is considered one of the most transformative enhancements in the resort's 70 years and is a key component of the 10-year "Sugarloaf 2030 Road Map,” published in 2020 by the resort’s parent company, Michigan-based Boyne USA Inc. 

The road map identified five key areas of focus for investment in this decade:

  • On-mountain experience
  • Resort enhancement
  • Next-generation Sugarloafers
  • Year-round vitality
  • Sustainability

In 2023, Mountainside Real Estate — Sugarloaf’s real estate agency — announced a multiphase residential development plan called Dutchman Woods, planned to include 20 single-family residential lots with ski-in/ski-out access.

Sugarloaf's namesake mountain, at 4,237 feet, is the second-highest peak in Maine after Mount Katahdin.

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