Lost Valley: Maine’s Best Kept Secret For Families
Every ski mountain has its niche. Some feature runs that stretch for miles; others are known for their après ski options. Lost Valley likes to go by the tagline: “Maine’s Best Kept Secret.” The secret for many is just how good the skiing is at the “small learning mountain.” The staff and owners at Lost Valley don’t expect people to spend their lives skiing at Lost Valley, but they can offer a great experience for families and children. Some of Maine’s best competitors got their starts here, including former Olympian Julie Parisien. Lost Valley caters to families with small children, school ski teams and teens looking for excitement on cold winter nights. An on-going special at Lost Valley is Teen Night every Saturday, featuring bands and $13 lift tickets from 5 to 9 p.m. Though none of the 15 trails are particularly long, a few are fairly steep. There’s also an excellent terrain park which is raved about by happy skiiers.
Because of its small size, Lost Valley’s snowmaking allows for coverage of 100 percent of the terrain. And Lost Valley has had the market cornered on grooming since way back in 1968. According to the New England Ski Museum website, Lost Valley played a big role in the start of snow grooming when Auburn’s own Otto Wallingford developed the Powdermaker in 1968. He was frustrated by the frozen, icy man-made snow that snowmaking created and was determined to find a way to turn it into perfect packed powder. “If he wanted something he built it,” says Wendell Nason, who worked for Wallingford for 20 years and still works part-time at Lost Valley. “They wanted something that would chew up a hard surface so it would be skiable.”
Along with Don Waterman he rigged up a hydraulic pump on a Thiokol snow vehicle and added a straight blade. He tinkered and tweaked it and after an eight-foot roller with metal screening was added and a few test runs were made, Wallingford got the results he was looking for. He built a more solid model and used it at the ski area for the rest of the season. During the spring Wallingford took his invention to Sugarloaf. As the story goes, mountain manager Hazen McMullen liked it so much he refused to give it back. “It was the forerunner to the tillers they run today,” Nason says. Wallingford went back to work in the off-season, using his own finances to build 25 “Powdermakers.” All were sold before Christmas of that year. He patented the machine for two-roll and five-roll models and he and Waterman went on to start Valley Engineering to build and market their product. And the skiing at this modest Maine mountain has been good ever since.
Address: 200 Lost Valley Road, Auburn
Opens for the season: Dec. 21
Number & type of trails: 15; 6 beginner, 4 intermediate, 5 advanced
Vertical drop: 243 feet
Snowmaking: Yes, covers 100 percent of terrain
Amenities: Terrain park, night skiing
Lifts: 3, including 2 double chair lifts
Ticket prices: Weekday day pass $24 adult, $22 junior (ages 6-12); weekend day pass $45 adult, $33 junior
Specials: Teen Night every Saturday 5 to 9 p.m. with bands and $13 lift tickets; Tuesday and Wednesday are Friends Days with 2-for-1 tickets. There are 2 Ski Free Friday – One on Jan 4th, sponsored by Emerson Toyota, and one on March 1st, sponsored by Lee Auto Mall. Both are 5 to 9 p.m.
Signature events: WinterKids Passport Day on Jan. 6; JP Parisien Memorial Race on Jan. 21
Did you know?
Trail grooming got its start at Lost Valley in 1968 when Otto Wallingford developed his Powder Maker, which turned frozen, man-made snow into packed powder