Monday, November 21, 2011

Ski Mountain Review - Shawnee Peak

Updated for the 2014-15 season...

As we get into the ski season, I will be posting reviews on ski mountains in Maine that we have visited. These reviews will be about the on-hill skiing experience with a family focus day-trip ski event in mind. Since we typically bring our lunch no reviews of the mountain lunch dining options. I want you to be able to get a sense as a family how this mountain would be suited for you. I will use a school ranking system handing out A+'s to F's in the categories below.

Ski Mountain - Shawnee Peak
Shawnee Peak is located in Bridgton Maine on Route 302. Shawnee offers over 40 trails and 19 are
lit for night skiing. Shawnee is the first place we ever visited as a family to ski and we had a blast. We crashed four straight times unloading the quad chairlift, but we finally figured it out by sitting Dad, Youngest Son, Mom, Oldest son on the chairlift... an seating order we keep to this day!

Parking Access and Day Lodge
Parking access is good at Shawnee. The main lot can hold quite a few cars and the walk is flat to the lodge. There is an additional lot but it is not too far away and it is still quite easy to drop your gear at the lodge first then go park.

Shawnee has 2 lodges. The main lodge holds all the skier rental and lesson services, and is the bigger of the two lodges but by far the busiest. All night skiing is done from this lodge as well. The lodge is fairly plain and industrial for the general seating area. The upstairs pub / bar is nice and has a good deck for those warm late winter days. They added an addition with lots of windows but it is mainly reserved for the customers utilizing the cafeteria.

The East lodge is much smaller and cozier, but is certainly less busy. It is only open days so if you plan on night skiing you will need to plan accordingly.

I give a grade of a A- for parking access and a B for the day lodge.

Trail Crowding and Lifts
Shawnee is split into two distinct areas. The Main area services a majority of the terrain and is serviced by three lifts. The trails in this area can get a little busy, but the trail designs lend themselves to spreading people out once they get a third of the way down the mountain. The east side services some very good intermediate to advanced terrain and gets less traffic. This area is serviced by a triple chairlift. You need to keep alert as you would at any ski area, but I don't feel like I am going to get run over too much at Shawnee. Lift lines are generally not too crazy either. For 2014-15 they have added a new lift to server the beginner terrain.

I give a grade of an B for trail crowding and a B for lift infrastructure.

Beginner Terrain
Shawnee does offer a carpet lift that services about a 100 yards of terrain right in front of the lodge, and then a new lift for 2014-15) that services a couple of gentle slopes. Not bad for the true beginner but not a whole lot of variety. The next step up is the Quad chairlift that brings you about 1/2 way up the mountain. You get access to much more terrain from this lift but the beginner better be ready! The first pitch can be a bit of a challenge and pretty crowded. I have seen more than one beginner really get tentative in this area. However, once you master this section you are good to go on the rest of the mountain.

I give a grade of a B- to the beginner terrain.

Intermediate Terrain
Shawnee has some really good intermediate cruisers. Lower Kangamangus on the main side is a blast. Typically not quite as crowded and really fun as it has some interesting turns in the trail. Jack Spratt early in the day is a lot of fun as well but that gets scrapped off and icy with heavy traffic. The east side groomed trails tend to be narrower but are just as fun. Don't miss what we call the 'side chutes' skiers left on the Main slope. Really fun little trails that dart in and out of the woods. Lots of fun racing the boys through those trails.

I give a grade of a B+ to the intermediate terrain.

Terrain Park
Shawnee has a very good terrain park system. The big park is on the Main slope and offers a pretty challenging pitch with some big features and a half-pipe to drop into at the end. They also offer a smaller park over off the Pine slope with some good beginner elements to get started on. The vibe is generally good in the parks

I give a grade of a A- to the terrain parks.

Expert Terrain
When the snow is right - Shawnee has some decent expert runs. From a groomer perspective, The Headwall portion of the East slope is a pretty steep run and they typically leave skiers right ungroomed for some bump skiing. Some terrain on the East side is left ungroomed. Tycoon is a lot of fun on a powder day. So overall you can get some challenge at Shawnee.

I give a grade of an B- to the expert terrain.

Gladed Terrain
There are some glades on Shawnee. In between the two main chairlifts from the summit you will find a network of narrow trails / glades. Ski 'em early as they get skied out pretty quickly, but I had a real blast there on a powder day. The glades are not remarkable but can offer some challenge and enjoyment.

I give a grade of an B- to the gladed terrain.

Lift Ticket Pricing
Shawnee ticket pricing from all day to night only. I think they are a bit on the expensive side but their location (proximity to southern Maine) rules so you have to take that into consideration. Check out the ski area website to get the latest pricing information.

I give a grade of an B- for day-trip lift ticket pricing.

Overall Ranking
Shawnee is a very solid mountain. Some great views are to be had of the surrounding lakes and Mt. Washington. Very good terrain and a closer drive makes Shawnee a good ski day. Pricing is variable, but if you can get away during the week you can really score at Shawnee.

Overall - I give Shawnee a ranking of a B

Feel free to comment on what you think about Shawnee Peak below.

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