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ENE Blog: The Warmer Side of Carrabassett Valley

By Tom Richardson
Family biking at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center.

As part of our recent filming session in Maine’s Carrabassett Valley, we visited Sugarloaf Mountain Resort. Best known for downhill skiing and snowboarding, Sugarloaf is investing heavily in “warm-season” activity infrastructure, most notably in the form of its mountain- and gravel-biking trails.

Trail crew member Peter Alexander rides one of Sugarloaf's new mountain bike trails.

To learn more, we spoke with Adam Craig, a former pro rider who competed nationally before joining Sugarloaf’s staff as Mountain Bike Park Development Manager. Adam spoke about the mountain’s existing trails, which are currently accessed by riders who climb the off-season ski trails. However, he’s very excited about the plans for a new lift-serviced bike park, which Sugarloaf hopes to open in Summer 2024.

Cameraman Camden Spear attaches a camera to the bike of Josh Tauses before he rides a section of trail at Sugarloaf's Outdoor Center.

We got a look at one of the new trails under construction with local rider and bike-trail crew member Peter Alexander, who explained the trail-building process and rode some of the trail sections on camera. Peter was also training for the upcoming Eastern States Cup, being held on the mountain August 18-20, so this served as a practice session for him.

Josh Tauses walks his bike across one the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center's wooden bridges.

More mountain biking opportunities can be found at Sugarloaf’s Outdoor Center, about a mile down Rte. 27 from the main entrance. The trails here range from beginner easy to more challenging courses with jumps and other features, and link to adjoining trails in the area.

Standard and electric-assist bikes, as well as helmets, can be rented at the Center, and a trained technician will adjust the bikes to each rider. Riding gear, shoes, and apparel are also available for sale.

The Sugarloaf Outdoor Center features numerous trails that wind through a variety of venues.

From the Center, we headed out with Sugarloaf Marketing & Communications Manager Charli Sayward, her husband Matt, and the couple’s precocious two-year-old daughter Ryland on some of the more family-friendly trails that skirted a small pond before entering the woods.

Later, we were joined by Trail Manager Josh Tauses (also a Carrabassett Valley NEMBA board member), who helped build the trail network at the Center. Josh explained how Sugarloaf worked with a team of renowned trail designers to assess the local landscape and carve trails that work with the natural features.


A couple prepares to launch their canoe from the beach at Cathedral Pines.

After a few hours of filming at the Outdoor Center, we headed north to Cathedral Pines Campground in the town of Eustis, some 11 miles north of Sugarloaf. Named for the towering Norway pines that populate the campground, Cathedral Pines is a local not-for-profit institution comprising 115 RV and tent sites on the shores of Flagstaff Lake.

Paddling on Flagstaff Lake.

We got a tour of the place with longtime manager Denise Cote, who explained that generations of campers have been staying here. Reservations are strongly encouraged, especially if you want to snag one of the coveted waterfront sites. All the RV sites at Cathedral Pines are equipped with power and water, and firewood and ice are available at the office. A small market and several restaurants are a short drive away.

Campers at Cathedral Pines on Flagstaff Lake in Eustis, ME, take in the view of the Bigelows from the campground's dock.

Cathedral Pines also rents kayaks and canoes from its beach on Flagstaff Lake, and we took advantage of a break in the clouds to enjoy the water. Turns out I was paddling the same waters where Benedict Arnold launched his march to Quebec in 1775. This and more we learned from local historian Kenny Wing, a former Maine State Ranger. Kenny is a font of knowledge concerning the area—as you will discover when you see the episode and short film coming later this fall.

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