Mainers love big ski resorts as much as anyone. The high-speed quads, the endless, rolling groomers, the seventeen dollar hamburgers and hundred dollar lift tickets… Well, maybe not those last two. In fact, definitely not those last two. Which is why, for weekend skiing, residents of the Pine Tree State return again and again to two mountains that offer that most elusive of family ski days: a quality, affordable one.
Tucked in the foothills of the western Maine mountains, Shawnee Peak and Mount Abram can’t compete with New England’s mega-resorts for scale or luxury amenities. But, they also don’t seem too fussed about trying. Instead, skiing at Mount Abram and Shawnee Peak feels like a throwback to the more modest days of the ski industry, when a mountain’s main attraction was, well, the opportunity to spend a day making turns without breaking the bank.
At 1,300 vertical feet, Shawnee Peak has a few extra turns in it than Mount Abram’s 1,150 vertical feet. Shawnee’s main lift, the Summit Triple, services most of the mountain’s terrain, which is skiable for all abilities from top-to-bottom. For the more adventurous, the separate Sunnyside area, with its own triple chair, opens up more challenging terrain, including gnarly glades and bump runs for the experts. There’s something here for everyone.
Like Shawnee, Mount Abram boasts terrain to keep skiers of every ability interested. But, it’s Mount Abram’s learner’s area that stands out especially for family friendliness, with its own lodge and parking lot serving as the perfect base camp for families with little ones (or anyone new to the snow). The large central fireplace in the learner’s lodge also provides the perfect spot for a kiddo to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa.
A distinctive community feel dominates both mountains. If you get the sense that everybody knows everyone at Shawnee Peak and Mount Abram, you’re not far from the mark. Families return to these gems year-in, year-out for their season-long kids’ ski school and race programs. So, too, the mountains’ compact layouts ensure it won’t take many days on the snow before you start recognizing people in the lift line.
As for cost, the full-price weekend adult ticket at Shawnee Peak ($72) and Mount Abram ($59) sets you back about thirty percent less than a comparable ticket at the big resorts. Junior tickets, rentals, and other essentials are less expensive too. And, though the main lodges at these mountains won’t win awards for luxury, you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to pay for lunch either.
So, next time you’re thinking of taking a ski day, give Shawnee Peak or Mount Abram a try. You won’t find better skiing value in Southern Maine.