Skiers and snowboarders who are new to Mt. Abram almost invariably arrive at the same two conclusions. First, it skis bigger than it looks – a lot bigger, in fact. Second, it has an old-school vibe of fun, funk and friendliness that just isn’t found much in the modern age of multi-resort ski operating companies.
Mt. Abram remains independent, locally-owned and intimate. It’s the sort of place where kids happily pogo up and down all day long – in the park, on a race course, in the bumps or trees — while their parents can enjoy a slower pace on long cruisers. Everyone seems to know everyone else and they all keep an eye on each others’ kids, rather like the way skiing was back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, only with better snow.
If you measure your lift ticket value by how many times you can ride a high-speed quad in order to reach wide, warp-nine boulevards, you’re better off elsewhere. Things move at a gentler pace here. Two chairlifts and two T-bars – remember T-bars? — get you up the mountain in decent time. From the top, you access a trail network that was suggested by nature, not engineered by dynamite and heavy equipment. As a result, every trail at Mt. Abram oozes character — another increasingly rare trait at ski areas these days.
It starts at the Westside base, where a small, intimate lodge serves beginning skiers and snowboarders. Westside is served by its own 3000’ chairlift and features “easier” terrain most ski resort operators would give nearly anything to gain. The runs are long and very gentle in pitch, with just enough terrain variations and changes in aspect to keep things fun and interesting. Mt. Abram’s Snow School offers complete packages for beginners including rental equipment, coaching and lift access.
Turns and pitch variations continue through the “More Difficult” trails, which constitute the majority of Mt. Abrams’ named runs (Mt. Abram was the first ski area in Maine to establish a boundary-to-boundary policy; you can go just about anywhere you wish without running afoul of the ski patrol). It’s on these trails that the mountain reveals its secret: the trail cut allows Mt. Abram to pack a TON of skiing into a comparatively modest 1,150’ vertical descent. Trails like this invite you to take a bit more time to savor.
Experts won’t find the massive straight shots some resorts use as their signature mogul runs, but you will find some wonderful tree skiing and plenty of bumps. And over the past few years, Mt. Abram has paid increasing attention to its terrain parks. The Snow School offers instruction for these, too.
So that’s a quick look for those who’ve never seen the place.
The resort prides itself on its partnerships with other Maine businesses, so some old favorites will be on hand – including pizza from the Portland Pie Company and an ever-prominent presence from Gritty McDuff’s (including its renowned Abram Ale) substituting for the famed Loose Boots Pub.
Mt. Abram expects to open for the season on December 15th. Operations run 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, and on all Maine school vacation holidays. Night skiing is confined to race and freestyle competition leagues and is open to the public on full moon evenings.
Thursdays are Two-for-One days (bring a friend and split the cost of a lift ticket), and anyone who shows up after 3:00 p.m. on Thursdays can enjoy the last hour for free. Fridays are carload days, where everyone legally seat belted into the same car can ski for a combined price of $75 (no vans or buses eligible).
For more information, call (207) 875-5000 or visit www.mtabram.com.
Address: 308 Howe Hill Road, Greenwood
Opens for the season: Dec. 15
Number & type of trails: 44; 10 beginner, 21 intermediate, 13 advanced
Vertical drop: 1150 feet
Snowmaking: Yes, covers 85 percent of terrain
Amenities: 3 terrain parks, night skiing, snow school, daycare, restaurants, lounge
Lifts: 5, including 2 double chair lifts, T-bar, surface lift
Ticket prices: All day all mountain $49 adult, $39 student (ages 6-17)/senior; half day $30 adult, $25 student/senior
Specials: Thursday 2-for-1 lift tickets and ski free after 3 p.m.; Carload Fridays $75 includes lift tickets for every legal passenger in car, SUV or minivan
Signature events: Ski Channel film screening of “Winter” Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. in Loose Boots Lounge; Ride and Ski New England party Jan. 14 at 2 p.m. at Loose Boots Lounge; Maine State Tele Festival and Whitegrass Music Festival Feb. 11-12
Did you know?
Mt. Abram’s 1325-foot tubing park is the longest in Maine