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Scenic Fall Foliage Lift Rides on the SuperQuad

By Gabrielle Martin

October 1, 2021

As every Sugarloaf skier or rider undoubtedly knows, the SuperQuad is like the I-95 for upper-mountain terrain in the winter, offering the quickest access to the majority of the mountain—but did you know that it also provides access to some of the most spectacular leaf peeping in Western Maine?

The SuperQuad

With the highly-anticipated scenic chairlift rides up and running during near-peak fall foliage, I decided to take a ride for myself, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed!

I left my apartment in Kingfield at half past eight on Saturday morning, clad in flannel with a cold brew coffee from the Orange Cat Cafe in-hand. As I rounded the winding roads of Route 27 and entered the Valley, the marvelous mountain views were obscured by a thick layer of fog–just as WMTV meteorologist Jackie Thomas has predicted on the 6 o’clock broadcast that morning.

I was beginning to wonder how successful my scenic chairlift photo mission would be with such low levels of visibility when I turned the “Oh My Gosh” corner and caught sight of Sugarloaf, standing tall against a brilliant bluebird backdrop. What was initially forecasted to be a wash turned into a beautiful day in the mountains of Western Maine: fair and fall-like, with plenty of foliage!

I got my RFID-ready ticket from the Outpost Adventure Center on Main Street in Sugarloaf Village a few minutes before 9:00am, which is when the SuperQuad opens for mountain access, and was soon on my way over Lower Candyside, which was colorful and covered in late September sunlight.

As the lift crosses over a babbling run-off brook that had become considerably larger since the rain the day before, the word that came to mind was “serene.” If you’re looking for a relaxing and peaceful way to start your day, look no further than Sugarloaf’s scene chair rides!

The foliage was especially vibrant on the West side–with gorgeous shades of burgundy and scarlet–and became increasingly visible as the lift climbed Competition Hill, as did the pockets of fog clinging between the hills and valleys as far as the horizon. The breeze began to pick up and I knew I was nearing the top; it wasn’t long before I could start to hear traces of music being played by the top lift station carried on the wind. 

I received a warm welcome from the lift attendant even before disembarking, and when he saw my camera, he gave some suggestions for scenic spots for good snapshots–from the amphitheater to the lichen, which varies in color depending on altitude and access to oxygen.

The great thing about the scenic lift rides is you can get off and explore the hill before heading back down.

View of the SuperQuad over Competition Hill
You know the film Almost Famous, with Kate Hudson as the iconic Penny Lane? How she says, “If you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends”? This is the Sugarloaf equivalent for when you’re feeling sentimental for ski season. Traveling by foot over your favorite trails and terrain is a totally new and gratifying experience! I always find Skidder gives you some of the best on-hill views, and even in off-season, it didn’t disappoint.

Take advantage of the access and make short work of hiking your way to the summit: the top of the SuperQuad puts you in a great position for a moderate 15- to 30-minute hike to Sugarloaf’s summit. Be prepared for a 15 degree temperature difference at the top–as I like to say, layers are the name of the game. And, as always, remember weather can change quickly and without warning. As I was told when I first moved to Maine, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.” 

When you’re ready to head down, you can go by chairlift (with last chair departing from the top of the SuperQuad at 3:45pm) or by foot.


Scenic lift ride back to base

The good news? The foliage is going to be even more vibrant in the weeks to come, plus the forecast suggests lots of blue skies and sunshine for this Saturday and Sunday. And the best part? Your ticket allows you unlimited rides on the Quad for the day you purchased your lift pass, meaning you can hit the links or the shops, get lunch or drinks in the Village, take a Onewheel demo or zipline tour from the Outpost, and still take to the hill again later in the day!

The SuperQuad is now spinning on weekends from 9:00am to 4:00pm; tickets are $15.00 per person when booking online, in advance, or $20.00 per person when purchased on-site at the Outpost Adventure Center.

Children (ages 5 and under), seniors (ages 80 and over), and guests with a 2021/22 winter season pass ride for free. Passholders, be sure load summer lift access onto your pass and have your RFID pass on you in order to open the gates to load the lift.