First-Timer's Guide to Hitting the Slopes At Sugarloaf

by Gabrielle Martin

You've secured lift tickets and lodging, got your gear prepared and packed, and now you’re are all set to send it to Sugarloaf, stoked for some spectacular shredding and stellar après-ski scene. Congratulations: you’ve just taken the first step in your journey of becoming a life-long Loafer. This may be your first time at our resort, but it certainly won’t be your last! After all, there’s a reason the town of Carrabassett Valley’s motto is, “From here on, your life will never be the same.”

Here’s everything you need to know about our mountain resort, and your time on snow, before you go.

A distant view of a snowy Sugarloaf Mountain

Know Before You Go

When it comes to operating safely, we're all in. We've learned a lot over the past year, and we're both thankful and proud of our efforts to help keep the resort a safe and fun place to visit. That being said, we will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC and local health officials, and outlined below you will find details on our plans for different areas of resort operation.

We encourage you to thoroughly review all of this information prior to visiting us.

  • Lockers
    Base Lodge
    Currently there are no capacity limits on the Base Lodge or other buildings. Face coverings are recommended for all guests while inside the Base Lodge, regardless of vaccination status. Bag storage is permitted in the Base Lodge only in our designated bag check area.
  • Mask
    Face Masks
    In accordance with current CDC guidance, face masks are recommended and encouraged while indoors for all guests, regardless of vaccination status. All Sugarloaf staff members are required to wear face coverings while indoors.
  • Lift
    Lift Operations
    At this time, there are no capacity limits on our lifts and face coverings are not required while in line or while riding the lift. We will continue to follow CDC and State of Maine guidance and will adjust our procedures as needed.
  • Open sign
    Restaurants & Retail
    Restaurants and retail stores are open as usual, and will continue to follow the latest guidance from the CDC and State of Maine. Face coverings are recommended indoors for all guests, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Shuttle
    Shuttle Service
    Masks are required at all times for all guests and staff while riding both Parking Lot Shuttles and Sugarloaf Explorer Shuttles.

Skier/Rider Drop-off

To make your arrival more convenient, we have added two skier/rider drop off lanes in the hotel lot, which you can use to drop off members of your party with their gear before you park your car; the Sugarloaf Explorer Shuttles will also drop off in this lot, while parking lot shuttles will drop off at the Base Lodge. 

Parking and Shuttles

Parking in all lots is free at all times, and parking lot shuttles operate every day of the winter season. Parking lot shuttles are operated by Sugarloaf and drop off at the Sugarloaf Base Lodge; if you do not see a shuttle when you arrive, wait at the sign at the end of the parking row.  

Sugarloaf Explorer

Shuttle service to condos and villages throughout Carrabassett Valley is provided free of charge throughout the season by Sugarloaf Explorer, which is owned and operated by Western Maine Transportation. The Sugarloaf Explorer service is supported by Sugarloaf, Maine DOT, USDOT, the Town of Carrabassett Valley, home owners' associations, and local businesses.
The Sugarloaf Explorer operates on set routes at regular times. For a complete route schedule, visit; the Sugarloaf Explorer dispatch office, (207) 237-6853, is also available from 8:00am-11:00pm Monday-Thursday, 7:00am-1:00am Friday and Saturday, and 7:00am-11:00pm on Sundays.

Learn to Ski or Ride

At Sugarloaf, ski and snowboard lessons are as effective as they are fun with our Guaranteed Learning Method. We combine progressive slope difficulty with the Perfect Turn coaching system to make learning to ski or ride easy and fun. We take great pride in making your first time sliding on snow an unforgettable experience!

    • Learn To Ski Or Ride


      • Includes full-day lower-mountain lift ticket and full equipment rental
      • 90 minute group lesson
      • Designed for beginners
      • Access the Terrain  Based Learning™ Area
      • Group lessons, organized by age and experience
    • Ages 18+

      Adult Private Lessons

      2 Hours
      • Available any day all season, online reservations required 
      • Pricing allows up to 3 participants of around the same age/ability group
      • All abilities welcome; recommended for first timers
      • Lift ticket not included; individuals who plan to participate must have a pass without blackout/restricted days
    • Ages 3-17

      Kids' Private Lessons

      2 Hours

      Set your little Loafer up for success with a private lesson from one of our professional instructors. 

      • Pricing allows up to 3 participants of around the same age/ability group
      • Available any day all season
      • All abilities welcome, recommended for first timers
      • Lift ticket not included (lift tickets are just $5 for kids 5 and under)
      • Reservations required; please book online

Snowboarders going down a slope.


Rentals must be booked online 24 hours in advance. You can opt in for the complete package, which includes skis, boots, and poles or a snowboard and boots, or you can rent items individually. To reserve your rentals, visit the Sugarloaf Online Store.

Trails and Terrain

Be sure to check out the trails markings both on the trail map; the colored symbols next to the trails indicate the difficulty of the trail. You will also find this system posted on signs on the mountain.

Before you ride a lift, make sure the trail symbols off of that lift fit your ability. If you have any questions or need directions, talk to a lift attendant or another Sugarloaf team member. If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability level don't be afraid to ask for help, call Ski Patrol at 207-237-6994.

  • Green Circle
    Green Circle
    Easiest/Beginner Terrain
  • Blue Square
    Blue Square
    More Difficult/Intermediate Terrain
  • Black Diamond
    Black Diamond
    Difficult/Advanced Terrain
  • Double Black Diamond
    Double Black Diamond
    Most Difficult/Expert Terrain

Remember to be safety conscious on the slopes! Observe the code listed below and share with other skiers the responsibility for a great on-hill experience.

  • Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  • People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  • You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  • Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  • Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  • Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  • Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

This is a partial list, officially endorsed by the National Ski Areas Association.


Riding Recommendations

Sugarloaf features more than 60 miles of trails and glades.

For our just-starting-out skiers and shredders, you'll likely be spending most of your time on terrain around The Base Area on trails like Boardwalk, The Birches, The Landing, and Snowbrook, all guaranteeing glorious views of the Bigelow Range as you take your turns. My personal pick for this area would be Lower Narrow Gauge, accessible from the top of the Double Runner Lift, as it always grooms out nicely.

For those more confident in their carving, I suggest sending it down classics like Tote Road, our longest trail, spanning 3.5 miles from the summit to the base. Another must-do for intermediate skiers or snowboarders is King's Landing, with a challenging final pitch sure to get your adrenaline pumping. The West Side has some solid blue square trails, like ripping-ready Windrow,  and you can never go wrong with Ramdown, accessible off the King Pine lift, which always ranks in my top 10 trails.

For shred-ready Sugarloafers who are well-seasoned in snowsports, you can't beat the terrain in the King Pine bowl, from Haulback to Flume, Ripsaw to Widowmaker. As for mid-mountain, be sure to give Narrow Gauge, our racing trail, a go, and hey, hey, hey: don't miss out hitting Hayburner or the ever-iconic Gondi Line.

When the snowfields are open, those are, of course, a must for any experienced skier or rider, as is the legendary Brackett Basin. Sugarloaf is unique in that we offer the only above-treeline skiing in the East, as well as 30 named glades, the largest of which clock in at more than 100 acres. As for our sidecountry terrain on Burnt Mountain, home of our cat skiing operations, and Brackett Basin, together they contain more than 1000 acres of glades.

Pro-tip: Ask those around you in the lift line, or those you ride the lift with, what trails they suggest! No one knows the hill's hot spots better than the Loaf locals. 


Drinking and Dining

Around here, the day's adventures aren't complete without the right menu. Whether it's a big breakfast to fuel your turns or an ice cold beer to end your day, we've got you covered. Craving the best burger of your life with the whole family, or seeking to cozy up with a specially crafted cocktail with a view? There's a dining option for you; click here for a run-down of restaurants at Sugarloaf.

Après-Ski Scene

Read "The Après A, B, Cs" for everything you need to know about what happens the the lifts stop spinning.


We've got plenty of fun activities planned throughout the season, both on and off the slopes, from comedy shows to live après entertainment, music festivals, and so much more! Check out our Events Calendar to see what's happening here during your stay.