Saddleback Travel Guide
Saddleback © Jack Flanagan
One of New England's most popular ski resorts, Saddleback is nestled in Maine's Rangeley Lakes Region overlooking the town of Rangeley and oozes Alpine charm with its natural beauty and uncrowded slopes. The resort spans 440 acres (178 ha), and boasts 66 runs for all abilities, including the biggest glade in the east at 44 acres (18 ha). Priding itself as one of New England's finest family ski and snowboard resorts, it's a great year-round destination and offers more than just meets the eye. Saddleback is conveniently located close to both Portland and Bangor airports, making travelling with kids a dream, and with a season stretching from November to late April, there's plenty of snow for everyone.
With 66 run and glades, including the largest in the east, there are slopes catering to all kinds of skiers. Beginners have a choice of 25 trails on the lower section of the mountain where skier traffic is low, intermediates can carve on up to 19 trails in the middle section, and 22 trails cater to the advanced and expert skiers on the upper part of the mountain on runs such as Muleskinner, Dark Wizard, and Nightmare Glades. The Freerider Terrain Park is located on the Wheeler Slope and includes a variety of terrain, rails, jumps and ramps; the Gee Whiz terrain is the perfect place for younger riders and beginners to hone their skills; and although the ski school is quite pricey, it's a great way for beginners to improve their skills.
There is not much shopping in the actual resort of Saddleback and holidaymakers will have to head to Rangeley to quell their urge to splurge. There is a good selection of shops along the main street including book stores, specialist sports stores and the Alpine Shop, which carries a nice range of clothing as well as interesting household goods and some sporting equipment.
Those looking to eat out will have to head to nearby Rangeley where a good range of restaurants lines the main street. Here, holidaymakers can either choose to grab a quick take-away and head back into the mountain, or enjoy a leisurely dinner at one of the local pizzerias, barbeque spots, cafés or fine dining restaurants. Thai Blossom Restaurant is a popular choice, adding a little spice an otherwise chilly night.
The après ski in Saddleback is pretty limited but there's entertainment in the Swig-N-Smelt Pub upstairs in the base lodge from time to time. It closes relatively early most nights however, leaving those looking for something a little more upbeat heading down to the nearby town of Rangeley for a more hip and happening nightlife scene along the picturesque main street, where everything from lazy pubs to upbeat bars can be found.
Depending on the time of year you visit, Saddleback has plenty of varied activities. In the winter months enjoy snowmobiling, snowboarding, skiing and snowshoeing, while Rangeley features an ice skating rink behind the town office. Boating, hiking, fishing and mountain biking are popular summer activities.
Marketed as more of a family resort, après ski leaves a lot to be desired and party animals might be left disappointed.