Sunday River Ski Getaways

ski getaways

From a modest beginning Sunday River has grown to encompass 131 trails and glades, 663 acres, eight interconnected peaks, and a network of 18 lifts.

The original single-peak, double and a T-bar area that was Sunday River now stretches three miles from White Cap (home to the infamous White Heat) to Jordan Bowl. Lodging has grown from practically nothing to include seven townhouse and condominium complexes (all slopeside), the Snow Cap Inn and the genuine old-fashioned Snow Cap Ski Dorm, and two full-service hotels, the Grand Summit above the White Cap base area and the Jordan Grand Summit at the base of Jordan Bowl. Where once there was a modest single base lodge there are now three base areas, including the South Ridge Base Lodge and Welcome Concourse, and an on-mountain lodge at the top of North Peak.

And of course the diversity of terrain has grown, too. There's plenty for everyone, from gentle learning trails to steep glades. The South Ridge area alone is almost all green, and one of four strategically located high speed quads (easy on, easy off) is here. In fact, interesting and often long beginner trails can be found at the top of 11 of the 18 lifts.

Intermediates will find choice trails on all eight peaks, but North Peak, also served by a high speed quad, is the center of blue square action, with trails like Grand Rapids, Escapade, and 3-D sure to please dedicated cruisers. But don't limit yourself to North Peak - Risky Business and American Express (Amex) off Spruce Peak, Upper Sunday Punch to Sunday Punch off Locke Mountain, and Rogue Angel and Excalibur way over in Jordan Bowl are worthy trails, and there are many more in this vein.

The toughest runs at Sunday River, with some notable exceptions, are concentrated on White Cap and Oz. White Cap is home to White Heat, which features a very steep headwall soon after you enter it. Normally half this trail is winch-groomed and the other half left to develop the huge moguls for which the trail is most remembered (or, depending on how you handle them, most forgotten). Flanking White Heat are two steep and tight glades, Hard Ball and Chutzpah. Shockwave, every bit as steep as White Heat, and the single black diamond Obsession complete White Cap's challenge. Those who wish to opt out at the top of the lift can take the aptly named Salvation.

Over at Oz, double diamond Emerald City, Tin Woodsman, and Ruby Palace share this peak with single diamond Eureka and Lost Princess. All five trails thread through the trees to a greater or lesser extent, very "Western" in their feel. In fact, thanks to the thin soils of the western Maine mountains - all that the last glaciers left - Sunday River is predominantly covered with spruce and fir on its upper two thirds, which only adds to the "Western" effect.

Glade aficionados have some remarkably fun choices, ranging from Blind Ambition at Jordan Bowl (despite the black diamond rating, a good place to hone your woodcraft) to the much more testing Flying Monkey, Celestial, and Spruce Cliffs.

With all this space at its disposal, mountain management liberally sprinkled terrain parks across the area. Of course there's a competition-grade half pipe and a mini pipe to learn on, but there are also five full-scale freestyle parks. And if a ridercross/skiercross course is built for a competition it's often left up for the general public to use after.