Carrabassett Valley is a very small town with a population of under 1000. It is known best for being home to Sugarloaf (formerly Sugarloaf/USA), a major ski resort as well as ski and snowboard academy where many of the USA’s winter Olympians have been trained.
The town was created in 1971 from what was then called the Jersalem Township. It is called Carrabassett Valley after the Carrabassett River which runs nearby. The town has come to play a large role in the development of the mountain resort.
Sugarloaf is the largest ski resort east of the Mississippi. It has 154 trails, 1,400 skiable acres, and a continuous vertical drop of 2,820 feet. It has the second highest elevation in Maine.
It was first opened in 1950 by the Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Club and a local ski group called the Bigelow Boys. The first trail was cut in the summer of 1950 with the help of club member Amos Winter, giving it the appropriate name “Winter’s Way.”
Ten years later, 5 T-bars had been installed over the mountain, and Whiffletree and King Pine Bowl portions of the mountain were opened.
In 1965 the name was changed to Suglarloaf/USA at the suggestion of Walt Ernst, a copywriter working for Ad-Media, who thought it would imply size and international stature. The resort continued to grow with several chairlifts being added in the late 60’s and 70’s.
During the 1970-71 season there was little snowfall in Europe, forcing World Cup races to be held elsewhere. North America was the best choice. Suglarloaf was already scheduled to host a World Cup Downhill and Giant Slalom and it was the only mountain large enough to host it, the Arlberg Kahndaharone – one of the most high profile races – was moved to Sugarloaf. It was, and still is, the only time that the race has been held outside of Europe. A total of 6 World Cup events were held at Sugarloaf that year, bringing thousands of spectators putting Suglarloaf/USA on the international stage.
The early 1970s saw a shortage in snow not only in Europe, but also on the east coast. Sugarloaf installed snowmaking machines, allowing it to increase the number of ski days. With the incorporation of Carrabassett Valley and the increase in ski days there was a large increase in real estate development around the mountain.
In the 1980s the Carrabassett Valley Academy was founded offering ski and snowboard training to middle and high school students along with the rest of their academic studies.
During the 90s and early 2000s Sugarloaf played host to the U.S Nationals on multiple occasions.
In 2007, Sugarloaf changed hands, dropping the “/USA” from its name and undergoing a major renovation. New trails have been added as well as new lifts and there are plans for a new Gondola.
Today Sugarloaf offers fantastic skiing and snowboarding while the town and mountain offer great restaurants, shops, and more!