Image Credit: Keegan Plourde/Saddleback Mountain

No ski resort has had quite a comeback like Saddleback Mountain. Closed for multiple winters during the late 2010s, people wondered if the place would ever reopen. Then, in a year known as a disaster for most people, Saddleback began its revival.

After announcing their intention to purchase the ski resort in 2019, the Arctaris Impact Fund finalized the purchase of the mountain in January 2020 and went to work. When Saddleback reopened in December 2020, they replaced the Rangeley double chairlift with a high-speed quad and renovated their base lodge. Since then, they’ve added a new quad chairlift to service their terrain park, added a new t-bar, built and opened an employee housing facility, began building out an array of real estate projects, and added a solar farm.

After years of reporting on their comeback, I finally had the chance to visit Saddleback two weekends ago. It’s safe to say that Saddleback lived up to the hype.

As you walk through the base area, you’ll see many cute buildings: one for their Real Estate Center, and the other for Sneaky Pete’s, a quaint spot for waffles and beers. The main base lodge is among the best in the Northeast. The first floor is home to rentals, a retail shop, lockers, and bathrooms. The main floor has a Market (food court), a dessert shop, a ticket office, and a nice fireplace. The top floor features The Pub (more on that later).

The terrain is extremely playful. Runs off the Rangeley Express wind down the mountain, giving you a taste of classic New England trails. Beginners have their own space on the lower mountain, which is serviced by a quad chairlift. The t-bar is also a fun ride, with a mix of easy/intermediate groomers and natural runs. I didn’t get to explore much of the terrain off the Kennebago chairlift due to it being in the middle of a freeze-thaw cycle, but the steeps look like a ton of fun.

Image Credit: Andy Gagne/Saddleback Mountain

The biggest addition for the 2023-24 season is their new mid-mountain lodge. Called The Nest, this lodge has an array of neat architectural features, including a living roof, roof siding, and huge glass windows that showcase the Mooselookmeguntic Lakes and the surrounding mountains. Inside is a restaurant with some tasty food options. They plan to add a Ski-Up Kiosk and Bar in the future.

In the later afternoon, I stopped at The Pub on the third floor of the base lodge. They have a menu full of classic tavern fare, along with a good variety of brewskis. My pick was the chili, which was a wise choice.

A cool feature of The Pub is the vintage photos and trail maps of Saddleback.

Since my visit, conditions at Saddleback have improved. They got 15″ of snow this past weekend, and now 100% of their terrain is open. Warm weather is making the snow soft, and more snow could be coming this weekend.

The conclusion of the season will see a variety of events at Saddleback. The Spring Bash Weekend, which is happening from April 5th through 7th, will have an Eastern Halfpipe jam and a pond skim, among other events. On April 8th, they’ll be hosting a party for the total Solar Eclipse, as the mountain is on the totality path. After the ski season ends, they’ll be having the annual King of the Mountain Snowmobile Hill Climb. I imagine Donny and some moose will find their way up there.

Overall, Saddleback impressed me. It’s got great terrain variety, modern lifts, two great on-mountain lodges, and a growing residential community. This place will continue to improve in the coming years, so Saddleback should be on every skier and rider’s bucket list.

Image Credits: Saddleback Mountain, Ian Wood

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