Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Definitive Saddleback Ski Trail Guide

Since we are Saddleback season pass holders and Saddleback is our favorite mountain, we are often asked about the how to navigate the trails at Saddleback and which ones we recommend. It really depends on your ability, but Saddleback offers a great day of skiing for everyone of skill levels. Here is our guide to all the ski trails at Saddleback Maine. 

South Branch Quad | Sandy Double  | Cupsuptic T-Bar | Rangeley Double  |  Kennebago Quad
     - Easier          - More Difficult        - Most Difficult           - Extremely Difficult

South Branch Quad Area 
The South Branch quad chair services an extensive area of beginner terrain below the base lodge. All the trails are groomed and this area is separated from the more advanced upper mountain terrain creating an excellent learning environment. The trails serviced from this chair include:

Trail descriptions are ordered from skiers right to skiers left.
Click here for a larger version of the trail map from the Saddleback website.

     Little Inky - A short trail offering a connection to Green Hornet.
     Garrison (Glades) - A nice short glade through a patch of white birches offering a gentle pitch. 
     Dusty Miller - A side trail that winds its way back down to the South Branch chair.
     Rooster - A short side trail off Royal Tiger and links up with Dusty Miller.
     Candlestick - An offshoot trail that links up with Hummer.
     Hummer - Links up with Candlestick to offer a winding path through the woods back to the South Branch chair.
     Royal Tiger - The main slope under the chairlift. A wide trail offering plenty of room to learn to ski.
     Mrs. Duley (Glades) - A delightful romp among the white birches offering a gentle slope and a great introduction to tree glade skiing. This glade is quite long and parallels Royal Tiger.
     Gee Whiz (Terrain Park) - Typically set up with features, banks and jumps aimed at the beginning terrain park user. 
     Streamer - A side trail when linked up with Smelt gives access to the Mountain Brook condos.
     Hornburg - Access via a sharp skiers left on Royal Tiger immediately after the White Birch Condos and also gives access to the South Branch condos. Continue on Smelt or Streamer back to the South Branch chair.
     Smelt - Provides access to the Mountain Brook condos and continues back down to the South Branch chair.


Sandy Double Area
The Sandy Double chair is a short lift that loads right in front of the base lodge. This chair primarily serves the terrain park setup on the Wheeler slope. You can also access the Cupsuptic T-Bar from this chair as well as some short beginner terrain. Our boys like to use this chair for warm-up runs first thing as the parents are slower with getting the ski gear on! The trails serviced from this chair include:

Trail descriptions are ordered from skiers right to skiers left.
Click here for a larger version of the trail map from the Saddleback website.

     Wheeler (Terrain Park) - The main terrain park at Saddleback offering bigger jumps and features for the terrain park user. Plenty of chances for the terrain park guru to show off their skills for folks on the Sandy and Rangeley chairs. Other skiers can ski down the side of the trail outside of the park back to the lift and lodge.
     Montreal - A short trail that usually has a small jump built in it to grab some air and gets back to Wheeler.
     Gnat - Short trail that works its way back to Wheeler and the base area.
     Squirrel - Short trail that also makes its way back to Wheeler as well as providing access to some of the Rock Pond condos.

Cupsuptic T-Bar Area
The Cupsuptic T-Bar services blue square intermediate terrain. The T-Bar is a good option on busy days when the line at the Rangeley is long but you have to ride the Sandy Double first to get to it. You can also access the upper mountain Kennebago lift via The Pass crosscut trail. The Pass also accesses the lower parts of the trails coming off the Rangeley double. The trails serviced from the T-Bar include:

Trail descriptions are ordered from skiers right to skiers left.
Click here for a larger version of the trail map from the Saddleback website.

     The Pass - A crosscut trail that leads to the Kennebago lift as well as access to all the lower sections of the trails off the Rangeley chair. Its a gentle pitch but keep looking uphill to avoid skiers coming down the various trails. 
     Parmachenee Belle - A great ungroomed bump run with opportunities for natural terrain jumps and you can duck in and out of the trees in the top section. The pitch is not too severe once you get past the initial section. The trail splits into two sections near the bottom so ski it twice to do both sides.
     Silver Doctor - A nice groomed bomber. The top section offers a fairly steep pitch and then it flattens out a bit where you can lay into some big Giant Slalom turns. Looks skiers right for some opportunities for side powder and jumps. 
     Blue Devil - A narrow winding groomed trail. You can get access to Red Devil skiers left after the first main pitch. Very fun trail to ski as it winds down the mountainside. 
     Red Devil - A wider groomed run. Its an uphill hoof to get to the start of the trail. Coming at this trail down Jitterbug from the Rangeley chair will give you some momentum for a head start. Nice view from the top of the trail. Fun opportunities on skiers left for powder stashes and to ski in and out of the trees.
     Woolly Bugger Glade - New for the 2014-15 season, a nice glade with moderate pitch. Accessible to the first-time glade skier not quite ready for Casablanca, but provides challenges for all abilities. Access to the left of the 'tree island' on Red Devil or a higher, narrow entrance from the Bee Wee Pass cross-cut from Hudson Highway.

While it is possible to access the green square Hudson Highway from the Cupsuptic T-Bar it is quite an uphill hoof. The map makes it look easier than it actually is. Access to Hudson Highway is best from the Rangeley Chair.

Rangeley Double Area
The Rangeley Double chair loads in the base lodge area and is the main lift up the mountain. The chair serves a nice variety of upper level blue and black level terrain and many excellent glades can be accessed. You can access the upper level Kennebago lift via the Green Weaver trail and all the Cupsuptic trails can be accessed from the Rangeley as well. The trails serviced from this chair include:

Trail descriptions are ordered from skiers right to skiers left.
Click here for a larger version of the trail map from the Saddleback website.

     NW Pass - A crosscut trail that services the lower portions of the Kennebego trails. Great for when the Kennebego is on wind-hold and the top is unreachable. Need to hike up a bit behind the warming hut to access the trail head. First 100 yards is flat to slightly uphill, then a gradual downhill grade. You can get all the way over to Supervisor via the NW Pass.
     Green Weaver - A groomed cruiser that has great views at the start. It hangs a pretty sharp left before it reaches the Kennebago chair area and this can get bumped up and icy later in the day. The bottom is a fairly flat run out back to the Rangeley. 
     Green Hornet - Hang a right on the lower section of Green Weaver to access. There are some interesting natural features / jumps on the side of the trail. Exits at the Rangeley Chair or you can continue down Dusty Miller to the South Branch chair.
        Lower Initimidator Glade - Challenging glade accessed skiers left off Green Weaver with some fairly open sections. Bottom section has a pretty challenging pitch before it exits onto The Pass.
        Lower Nightmare Glade - Tight glade accessed skiers left off Green Weaver. Not an obvious entrance so look for the signs. A fairly long run that usually contains good snow and exits alongside Intimidator.
     Peachy's Peril - Great natural snow ungroomed bump run. Skiers left usually contains nice wind blown powder when the conditions are right. Use caution at the intersection with Col. Bates as there is a spring that usually ices up this portion of the trail. Stay to skiers right! After crossing The Pass the pitch is less demanding but often holds great snow due to most people turning right for the Kennebago chair.
     Col. Bates - Accessed skiers left from Peachy's PerilPretty much an ungroomed connector trail to the bottom of Professor but offers a pretty good pitch and is narrow.
        Thrombosis Glade - A great glade that holds loads of snow that is accessed skiers right off Col. Bates. Very steep entry and it maintains a pretty constant pitch. After crossing The Pass, the lower section is less demanding and one can find some hidden powder stashes. Exits via a narrow chute to the lower section of Peachy's Peril.
     Upper Jane Craig - Ungroomed trail that shares the entry with Upper Professor. Turn right a couple of hundred yards in. Offers a constant pitch until a very steep cliff section. Look skiers left for a new glade cut and a boulder huck. Ski this early on a powder day as the cliff section gets exposed with skier traffic. 
     Lower Jane Craig - One of the hidden gems on the mountain. Great groomer trails with offshoot trails to skiers left in for ungroomed powders stashes. Light traffic means great conditions all day. Access from The Pass if you want to skip the upper trail cliff huck. 
     Upper Professor - Very similar to Upper Jane Craig. Stay left a couple of hundred yards in. Need to navigate a similar cliff section that needs to be skied early on powder days.
     Lower Professor - Nice narrow groomer run that winds it way back to the Rangeley chair. Great run to bomb as there are many rises and falls in the trail. Access from The Pass if you want to skip the upper trail cliff huck.
     Upper Royal Coachman - Great groomer run that runs under the Rangeley chair. Often the skiers left side is left ungroomed to allow you to show people in the chair how it is done. After crossing The Pass, the entire trail is left ungroomed on the next steeper pitch so use Lower Professor to avoid if needed. 
     Lower Royal Coachman - After the ungroomed section of Upper Royal Coachman, the groomer picks back up and offers a nice run back to the Rangeley Chair. Access available as well from Lower Professor.
     Grey Ghost - Great intermediate groomed bomber run offering three distinct pitches. After each pitch you get a chance to catch your breath before tackling the next one. You can really get rolling on this trail but remember to stay in control! Look skiers right in the top section for powder stashes and some tree skiing.
     Doodlebug - A connector trail off skiers left of Grey Ghost to get to Parmachenee Belle and skiers right to Golden Smelt. Look for access points when starting down the pitch after crossing The Pass. Skiers right is typically groomed.
     Muddler - Groomed access trail towards the bottom of Grey Ghost to get back to the Cupsuptic T-Bar or hop into the Terrain Park on Wheeler. Look for it on skiers left.
     Golden Smelt - Classic narrow ungroomed bump run. Top offers a cliff drop or stay skiers left to go around cliff. Rest of the trail offers great turns and bumps back to the Rangeley chair. Very fun trail to ski. 
     Jitterbug - Access trail to get to Hudson Highway or continue down to the Cupsuptic T-Bar trails. Take skiers left a couple of hundred yards down Grey Ghost then veer right at junction with Hudson Highway.
     Sneaky Pete - Access is via Jitterbug. A sharp pitch followed by an uphill section. Left ungroomed last year to probably reduce speed as it exits on to the busier Grey Ghost trail and T-Bar access.
     Hudson Highway- Takes a bit of poling but can be accessed from the Rangeley Chair unload area. Starts off fairly easy but there is a somewhat steep section at the intersection with Jitterbug that could cause new skiers to pause. After this section stay skiers left for a groomed, narrow, fun and relaxing run that winds its way back to the Cupsuptic T-Bar area. Try to carry speed at the end of the trail to avoid excessive poling.
     Bea Wee Pass - A short connector trail accessed from skiers right on Hudson Highway It accesses the  Devil trails right below the first pitch.
     Rock Pond - Connector trail to access to Rock Pond condos accessed skiers left off Hudson Highway.

Kennebago Quad Area
The Kennebago Quad chair services primarily expert terrain in the upper bowl of the mountain. The chair loads in front of "The Yurt" offering a place to rest and get some food and drink mid-mountain. The trails serviced from the chair include:

Trail descriptions are ordered from skiers right to skiers left.
Click here for a larger version of the trail map from the Saddleback website.

     Dazzler - A flat connector trail that services all the advanced expert terrain. After reaching Wardens Worry, it gets pretty flat with some uphill segments to reach Casablanca and Muleskinner. The length of the traverse is challenging but it thins out the skiers and leaves the snow quite fresh in the far skier right area.
        Muleskinner - Probably the most challenging trail on the mountain. A narrow winding ungroomed bumped trail with some steep pitches and islands of trees to ski around and through. Great views and access to chute #4 of Casablanca from the top of the trail which is a bit easier access if the regular glade entry points are skied off.
     Nymph - This is the run out trail at the bottom of Muleskinner and Casablanca. Very flat and its sole purpose is to get you back to the Kennebago chair. Trail is typically groomed.
        Casablanca Glades Chutes #4-#3 - These chutes are typically more wide open and you can let your skis run a bit in this part of the glade. Initial entry is narrow but it opens up quickly. It does tighten up towards the bottom and follows the same contours as Muleskinner so some steep pitches are to be navigated. This glade is very big and you will not ski the same run twice.
        Casablanca Glades Chutes #2-#1 - These pitches are tighter and the snow tends to stay fresher longer in this more sheltered section of the glade. Keep to skiers left in the glade and you get dumped out on Black Beauty. Again this glade is huge and you will find new lines on each run.
     Black Beauty - A great natural snow ungroomed trail that winds down the edge of the Casablanca glade. A sidecut entrance to Casablanca #1 is skiers right at the top of the trail. This trail gets a lot of wind blown powder deposits on skiers left.
     Frost Bite - A very similar trail to Black Beauty. Top head wall has trouble holding snow so access from a cross cut on Tight Line is sometimes required. 
     Wardens Worry - Awesome trail on a powder day. Fairly straight but offers a great pitch with a fun rock jump in the middle of the trail towards the bottom. Headwall access is sometimes sketchy so cut in from Tight Line is sometimes required.
     Tight Line - A big, awesome, wide and groomed expert bomber. After a steep headwall, speed is maintained via a great pitch. Ski the headwall early in the day and if the headwall gets scraped off you can skip it via Firefly.
     Lower Tight Line - A continuation of the Tight Line trail that starts skiers right of The Yurt and offers an enjoyable trek back to the Rangeley chair. Pretty light traffic so the conditions usually very good on this trail.
     Supervisor - A narrow, groomed run that has a few twists and turns. Pretty steep so quick accurate turns required. Look skiers left halfway down for access to lower part of Dark Wizard Glade.
        Dark Wizard Glade - Extremely challenging glade that is steep and tight. Top section can get scraped off and can be skipped by going down Artula to Firefly. This glade is a blast when there is lots of snow.
     Firefly - Cross-cut connector trail that starts on Tri-Color and ends at Wardens Worry. Good trail to use when the head walls of the upper mountain trails are icy or closed. 
     Family Secret - Under the chairlift trail which often offers car sized moguls in spots. Have your mojo on when doing this trail for your fans on the lift. Access is best from a short side-cut trail off the Dark Wizard Glade access from Firefly.
        Upper Governor Glade - Glade that is rarely open as it needs loads of snow, but a fairly reasonable pitch that exits at the top of Governor. This exit can be a bit of a cliff-huck if there is not a bunch of snow.
        Governor - Ungroomed trail with great natural snow and numerous powder stashes. The top headwall is pretty rocky so access is often best from a connector via Family Secret
     Tri-Color - Groomer run from the top of the mountain down to the Rangeley chair. Under heavy traffic, can sometimes get bumped up on top. Look for access to Firefly right before the left turn at the bottom of the main initial pitch. 
        Initimidator Glade - Really nice glade accessed from Tri-Color. Great tree spacing and pitch and a very long run. Exits at the bottom of Governor out to Green Weaver.
        Nightmare Glade - A more wide open glade found skiers right off Tri-Color. If the top looks rocky, ski down Tri-Color a bit and look for a small connector trail on skiers right. Great glade with islands of trees to ski around and through with lots of natural jump features.
     America - Gentle cruiser from the top offering the easiest way down the from the top. Outstanding views of Mt. Washington, Presidential's and Rangeley Lakes. Slight pitch towards the bottom of this trail before it exits to Hudson Highway. Probably could be designated a green trail. 
  
Saddleback does offer snowfield skiing from the summit. A hike from the top of the Kennebago is required. Make sure you check with the ski patrol prior to ascending to stay safe and to get familiar with the rules. We skied once from the summit back down to the top of Black Beauty and it was a lot of fun.

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