Skiing Maine: 17 Mountains
Hermon Mountain, Hermon
Unlike some big mountains where guests can pay for priority parking, Hermon bestows that privilege on Grammie Viles, who flips burgers while her husband works in the rental shop. Ten minutes from Bangor with 100 percent snowmaking, Hermon Mountain has been reinvesting capital into the mountain yearly. It operates like a well-oiled machine and serves as an updated model for future community ski areas that cater to local families as their customer base. skihermonmountain.com
Mt. Jefferson Ski Area, Lee
My fondness for small, family-owned local ski areas was just one reason I was looking forward to our visit to Mount Jefferson. The other reason was my fondness for homemade doughnuts. Mrs. Susan Delano, widow of one of the original six founders and turning 81 this year, makes them — nine dozen each day in four different flavors. skimaine.com/areas/mtjefferson
Big Rock Ski Area, Mars Hill
In 2000, the Maine Winter Sports Center bought this area with grants from the Portland-based Libra Foundation, which promotes winter sports in northern Maine. Since then, the mountain, founded in the 1960s, has focused on giving Aroostook County residents an affordable option to enjoy skiing. bigrockmaine.com
Quoggy Jo Ski Center, Presque Isle
By the time we arrived at Quoggy Jo, we were 30 minutes off schedule, but we were greeted with warmth and smiles. The small lodge had been taken over by a group of hip-looking kids, who upon our arrival braved the cold to crank the lifts and tour us around the mountain. After a couple of runs, we defrosted in the lodge and made dinner plans.
I’m not usually a meat-and-potatoes gal, so it might have been the cold, or it might have been my location that made me crave beef and comfort food big-time. We were in Aroostook County, the largest-area county east of the Mississippi. An expanse of remote land, its soil produces one of Maine’s most important crops: spuds. And in my opinion, the baked potato I had for dinner that evening, chased by a darned good steak, was the best I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.
After dinner, we headed back to the lodge. I hitched a ride with Joanne and Bruce, who happened to have an outside temperature gage in their truck. Joanne and I shrieked as the degrees dipped until we hit 28 below. It was a very cold night. I woke up from my food coma the moment I stepped outside the restaurant. skimaine.com/areas/quoggyjo
Lonesome Pine Trails, Fort Kent