Saddleback Maine (ski resort)
|Location||Rangeley, Maine, United States|
|Nearest city||Farmington, Maine|
|Top elevation||4,120 ft|
|Base elevation||2,120 ft|
|Skiable area||440 acres (1.8 km2)|
|Longest run||1.86 mi Hudson Highway|
|Lift system||5 (2 quads, 2 doubles, 1 T-bar)|
Saddleback Maine is a ski resort located in Sandy River Plantation, near Rangeley, Maine, on the northwestern slopes of Saddleback Mountain. It is the third largest ski area in Maine, in terms of number of trails (66), number of lifts (5), snowmaking percentage (85%), vertical drop (2000 ft) and skier days.
All of the trail names at Saddleback are named after famous fishing flies created in Rangeley by anglers Carrie Stevens, Bud Wilcox, and Dick Frost. Some of these fly names include Supervisor, Peachy's Peril, Royal Tiger, and America. All of the chairlifts at Saddleback are named after popular fly fishing rivers, such as the Rangeley River, South Branch (of the Dead River), and the Magalloway River.
Saddleback's terrain consist of 38% Beginner trails (25 trails), 29% Intermediate trails (19 trails) and 33% Advance and Expert trails (22 trails). There are also five (5) ski lifts, which include two, fixed grip quads, two fixed grip doubles, and a T-bar
The mountain is broken up into three sections, the upper, middle, and lower sections, which consist of terrain from double black diamond (hardest) to green circle (easiest). Each section of the mountain is serviced by a variety of lifts.
The lower mountain consist of 18 beginner trails, and is serviced by the South Branch Quad, and the Sandy Double Chair. The terrain is very mild and flat, and most of it is located below the base lodge which helps to keep skier traffic to a minimum. Saddleback sells a separate ski ticket on certain weekends and holidays, which is only good for the South Branch Quad. This allows for the ski area to reduce the price of the ticket because it only allows access to a limited amount of terrain. Since the new ownership, eleven new trails have been cut in this area and two quad chairlifts has been installed.
The middle mountain consist mostly of intermediate terrain, with a few expert trails thrown in. The terrain is serviced by the Rangeley Chair and the Cupsuptic T-Bar. One beginner trail Hudson Highway (a former jeep trail) runs from the top of the Rangeley Chair and Cupsuptic T-Bar to the base area. This section of the mountain consist of notable trails such as Grey Ghost, which has many head walls, flats, and curves, making it a fun and popular trail. Blue Devil is another popular trail because of its classic New England style, which is very curvy and narrow to protect the snow on the trail from the wind. Since the new ownership, four new trails have been cut in this area.
The upper mountain, also referred to as "The Kennebago Steeps, consisting of mostly advanced and expert trails". It is serviced solely by the Kennebago Quad chairlift, which was installed in the summer of 2008 to replace the Kennebago T-Bar. It has such famous trails as Muleskinner, Intimidator, Governor, and Nightmare Glades. It also has two intermediate trails, Tri-Color, which runs from the summit, and America, which is the continuation of the former jeep trail. Since the new ownership, seven new trails have been cut in this area. In 2013, Saddleback cut an extemsive glade trail named "Casablanca", and skiiers and riders have travelled to the mountain to experience this steep trail.
Through the 1990s, the ski resort's prior owner, Donald Breen, engaged in a protracted dispute with conservation advocates over the Appalachian Trail corridor, which runs across the ridge at the top of the ski resort. Breen settled the dispute with the National Park Service, which manages the trail, in 2000, and in the fall of 2003, Breen sold most of the resort to the Berry family, for $7.5 million.
The 2000s: Ownership by the Berry Family
The Berry family built a new base lodge, six new trails, and a new quad chairlift (the resort's first new chairlift in 30 years) in 2004.
In 2007, the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission approved Saddleback's 10-year development plan, which calls for a major expansion of lifts, trails, vacation homes, and other facilities.
In the summer of 2008, a second quad chairlift was built to replace the Kennebago t-bar at the top of the ski area, along with new trails. The Kennebago Quad is a Dopplemayr quad chairlift that has replaced the Kennebago T-bar, and services 15 trails and glades. The new chair provides easy and faster access to the spectacular high-elevation advanced terrain with incredible views of the lakes and Western Maine Mountains.
In 2009 a new yurt was built at the base of the Kennebago Quad lift. It is equipped with heat, power, and composting toilets. It offers hot and cold beverages, soups, chowders, sandwiches, and snacks.
A 40-acre (160,000 m2) glade area, Casablanca, was cut between Muleskinner and Black Beauty for the 2009-10 ski season.
In 2010, two new Pisten Bully Snow Groomers were added to the mountain's fleet of groomers.
During the summer of 2010 a new glade area was cut between Jane Craig and Professor. This section is unnamed.
Since the purchase in 2004, terrain has been increased by over 44%, snowmaking increased to over 85%, the grooming fleet has been replaced, and the Rangeley Chair has been upgraded and lengthened so it can be easily accessible from the base lodge. A new Lodge has been built, along with three new condominium complexes, and the mountain Saddleback's real estate office known as Saddleback Village.
The 2010s: New Ownership
In December 2012, The Berry's announced that Saddleback Mountain was for sale. Of 400 acres of land, the mountain was sold for $12 million, that include ski trails, lifts, the base loge and the surrounding 121 condominium units. However, the family still hopes to retain 7,600 undeveloped acres around the ski area. Later, Saddleback entered into a lease/purchase agreement for Oquossoc Cove Marina.
During the summer of 2015, the Saddleback owner, Mark Berry, announced in a release that the ski resort will not open for the 2015-2016 season unless the outdated and slow two person chair lift was replaced costing them nearly $3 million. The 4,717 Rangeley Chairlift does not transport enough people to the mountain as it should and creates a long line at the base.
Berry stated that "...we’ve been actively seeking the necessary financing to replace the chairlift, however time is running out.
We only have a few weeks to make this work. In order to open this winter, we need to order the new lift by early August."
It is unknown whether the mountain will open or not. As the year progressed into 2016, Saddleback officials said they were not opening for February school vacation week, keeping its patrons concerned and sending the future of the mountain into uncertainty. Though not yet declared by Saddleback, Joey Morton, a local from Rangeley "doubts the mountain will open at all this winter season." Furthermore, the lack of snow this winter and the uncertainty of Saddleback's opening affects the local businesses and the town of Rangeley.
- Ski Maine Association
- Saddleback Maine
- Saddleback Maine Trail Map
- "Saddleback's 10-Year Plan Approved."  Sunjournal.com. August 10, 2007.
- Saddleback Village
- "Saddleback Mountain Needs a New Chairlift or It Will Close". Retrieved 2015-10-04.
- "Saddleback Mountain will not open for February school vacation". Central Maine. Retrieved 2016-03-17.
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