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Sunday River

Skiing Sunday River


Sunday River

Sunday River

Copyright Mike Doyle
I had the opportunity to make an early December excursion to the mountains of Maine and the first area on my ski tour was Sunday River. Sunday River covers eight peaks and approaching it from the east is a bit deceiving because you only see the peaks as you drive past them until you get to South Ridge Lodge.

If you could see the entire area all at once you would be definitely wowed, but by coming up as I did you get to save the wows until you start to ski the expanse. This is almost 700 acres of classic New England skiing.

Advanced skiers will have a lot of challenging fun throughout the mountain and especially on the west side. A lot of nice blue groomed trails for intermediate skiers are scattered among all 8 peaks, and a variety of criss-crossing green trails for beginners allow easy going so everyone can a good feeling of on-and-on skiing.

Nothing adds to the thrill of a winter experience for new skiers better than the opportunity to tour a lot of terrain. Sunday River has end to end green trails that give newbies a feeling of accomplishment and a good reason to sleep well after all that ski touring. The mountain also offers up almost all of North Peak for new skiers to have green and easy blue trails to play on without going too far afield.

Great December Snow Cover

The day I skied, it was overcast but with the rewards of a consistent easy snowfall that put down a good 3 - 4 inches on top of really fine man-made snow. Sunday River can cover over 90% of terrain with over 1700 snow guns.

Snowmaking is the obvious key to consistent cover, especially in early December. Without going into a lot of technical detail, Boyne Resorts has mastered the art of snowmaking. The state-of-the-art snow guns, plus the engineering and training Boyne Resorts has invested in shows up best in one place - under your skis.

I skied through a lot of man made and natural snow at Sunday River and it was consistent, not-to-worry skiing - no wet grabby stuff which is great for skiers of all levels - fast or slow.

Skiing the River

My ski tour at Sunday River started at the main lodge - South Ridge - where I met the Sunday River snow reporter and web guy Jarod Richmond. If you want to ski as much of a ski resort as possible, ski it with a snow reporter. We skied just about all the open trails - at least once. It was an impressive number of trails for the time of year when some resorts aren't even operating yet.

We skied open cruisers and classic New England trails with turns and dips that drop into double fall lines, which is great fun and always make you keen as to what's ahead. This is New England skiing at its best - trails zig and zag, the way they were cut back when, but here, with the Boyne snowmaking you can be confident there is good snow around the next bend.

Jarod and I skied on Locke, Barker, Spruce and Aurora Peaks, and skirted past North Peak. Barker offers a comfortable mid-mountain lodge where you can take out the chill and fuel up on food or drink.

Later in the day, as the sky cleared a little, I got a good view of the blacks and double blacks I was missing on Oz and Jordan Bowl. Another couple of days and the crews would have that area open and it wetted my appetite for skiing there on another day.

Terrain Parks Supreme

Don't forget Sunday River is Simon Dumont's home mountain and where he set a world record for vertical height in a half-pipe - over 35 feet!


The Chondola is an experience for everyone. You have a choice of rides - alternating between a chair or gondola cabin ( CHair + gONDOLA = Chondola). If you want to leave your skis on take a chair or choose to ride in a cabin.

Off the Slopes

Upstate New York to Sunday River is a five hour drive and requires a stay of at least one night. Hint - to really ski up the mountain plan on staying two or three days. I stayed at the Grand Summit, operated by Sunday River's owners - Boyne Resorts.

Boyne Resorts properties are well staffed with friendly employees - a Boyne signature - and the Grand Summit has one of the most easily accessible free, in room Wi-Fi, I've come across. This is really a big plus, these days, for everyone who needs to stay connected.

The Grand Summit is ski-in - ski-out with a restaurant/bar, cafe, store, spa, and heated pool. What else do you need? Forget the world for a few days and ski and stay. If you feel like going out there are several places nearby - Liam's and Moose's Tail offer good pub fare.

Great Views

Jarod tells me I caught Sunday River on a really great early December ski day, but the snow and clouds blocked awesome views of Mt. Washington. That's just an added incentive to head back up to the River and see it from the top of Jordan Bowl.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary lift tickets for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

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