Saddleback Seeks Environmental Balance with New Mid-Mountain Lodge


The Saddleback crew has been BUSY this summer. Over 9 million dollars is being invested in the mountain this summer to support installation of three new uphill lift systems (t-bar, rope tow and carpet lift), construction starting on a solar farm, an A-Frame condo development is underway along with a mountain bike trail system being built. 

This week, Saddleback broke ground on building a mid-mountain lodge structure. Here are some interesting things to know about the new building.

Lodge Location

Lodge is located skiers left of the upper terminal
of the Rangeley chairlift
Clearing for the mid-mountain lodge has started in the wooded area between the Hudson Highway and Jitterbug trails skiers left of the upper terminal of the Rangeley high speed quad. It is our understanding that the existing warming hut located directly behind the upper Rangeley lift terminal will be utilized as a ski patrol station. The new lodge will be nestled into the forest where guests will be immersed in the natural environment via the planned expansive windowing in the building.

Environmental Design Considerations

One of the cool things Saddleback is doing is intentionally thinking of the environmental impact of this project. Saddleback mountain is host to a very unique alpine boreal forest. Boreal forests grow in high-latitude environments where temperatures below freezing occur for 6 to 8 months of the year. These forests are very effective in capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as well as being home to a lot of amazing animals, critters and insect life.

Green Roof Concept Design Drawing
Instead of digging a big hole and pouring a foundation, the lodge itself will sit upon posts minimizing disruption of the watershed. A really cool feature will be the natural plantings on the roof of the structure. Different varieties of blueberries and other plantings will provide habitat for birds and minimize visibility from above. Click here to see the roof planting concept design that was submitted as part of the Maine Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) permit application.

While the LUPC permit was granted weeks ago, Saddleback also held off on the clearing of the site until August 1 to avoid the Bicknell Thrush mating season. These birds reproduce only in high alpine boreal forest environments like the one found at Saddleback.

Bird-Safe Architecture  

One of the environmental tragedies in the world today is the hundreds of millions of birds dying each year when flying into windows. We need to be more mindful in our building architecture designs to ensure our bird population does not continue to be decimated by our buildings.

For over a year Saddleback has been working with Maine Audubon to incorporate bird-safe elements into their lodge design. Specifically, the lodge will incorporate window treatments to break up the reflection patterns of the windows. With the treatments, birds can detect that windows are a surface instead of appearing like a continuation of the space they can fly in. 

Example of a bird-safe screen system from Accopian
Birdsavers. Final design for Saddleback lodge TBD.
This treatment can be done in a number of ways including stickers or frits placed on the outside of the window, UV patterning actually put into the glass itself, or by the use of a screen.

Nick Lund from Maine Audubon is assisting the project architects and builders (Davies Toews and Barrett Made) to implement bird-safe designs into the plans. While the final design is still under consideration, Nick indicates it is likely they will use a removable screen system. This type of screen design are cords that hang down outside the windows. They don’t block the view, are minimal in appearance and do the job to break up the reflections for the birds. The window treatment systems provided by Accopian Birdsavers (https://www.birdsavers.com/) are a good example of this type of screening system. The final screen design for the lodge is TBD but should be finalized soon.

We are excited to see how the bird-safe design is incorporated in the completed lodge design and building construction.

Lodge Amenities

Interior Design Drawing of the Lodge
While the impact of COVID on our lives is awful, one thing it has done has made us as a society realize the outside is a pretty good place to hang out… even in the winter. We thought the Fat Tire bar and seating area outside the Saddleback base lodge was a big hit last winter. Going along with this theme, the new mid-mountain lodge will feature a “ski-up kiosk” (a.k.a. outside bar!) for outside food and beverage service along with exterior seating areas for those days when it makes sense to hang outside while planning your next ski run.

Inside the lodge will offer a bar / extensive seating area, bathrooms along with food / beverage service supported by a full kitchen. Expansive windowing and skylights along with a unique triangle design should make this quite an immersive experience for the Saddleback guest. Plans also call for weddings and special events to be held in the lodge during the warmer months.

Project Completion Date

Saddleback indicates they hope to have the lodge structure enclosed by October and then will be working hard to finish up the inside. Reading between the lines we estimate they are targeting a January 1 completion date, but of course that is all dependent on how weather, labor availability and supply chain logistics impact the construction timeline. Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly for the Saddleback crew!

Saddleback incorporating environmental and bird-safe design concepts into its buildings will be a model for other sustainable alpine development all over the world. Whenever the new mid-mountain lodge does open, it should be magnificent!


News Media Links on Saddleback Mid-Mountain Lodge








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A Family Skiing in Maine: Saddleback Seeks Environmental Balance with New Mid-Mountain Lodge
Saddleback Seeks Environmental Balance with New Mid-Mountain Lodge
Saddleback Mountain broke ground on building a mid-mountain lodge structure. Here are some interesting things to know about the new building.
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A Family Skiing in Maine
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