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Enjoy the Peaks of Maine at Sugarloaf USA   by Jeff Smith

For stunning views set amid mountainous, forested scenery, choose Sugarloaf USA in Maine for a weekend or weeklong getaway this fall or winter.

A top resort destination in the Northeast, many people think of Sugarloaf only as a ski mountain. But with its top-of-the-line golf course, summit hotel and numerous outdoor activity programs, the mountain has become a year-round vacation spot.

Sugarloaf's location in western Maine makes it easy to reach by car whether you are traveling from the New England states, New York, Montreal or Canada's Maritime Provinces. The farther from the cities and the closer you get to Kingsfield, Maine, the more relaxed you will feel. Once you enter Carrabassett Valley, where the access road to Sugarloaf begins, you are ready to start your Sugarloaf Maine vacation.

In the winter your prime objective will likely be skiing or snowboarding on Maine's second-highest peak. Sugarloaf accommodates ski families of all abilities by offering terrain that ranges from the steepest and toughest to the easiest on more than 100 trails.

Besides being a top winter destination, the summer and fall are excellent times to make Sugarloaf your base for hiking, moose watching, river rafting, canoeing and fishing. Explore the Carrabassett River or mountain waterfalls. The Appalachian Trail winds its way through the mountains around Sugarloaf to its ultimate destination of Mt Katahdin, deeper north into Maine.

Fall is time for foliage or leaf peeping, as it's known in New England. Set among the mountains of western Maine, Sugarloaf is a great vantage point for stellar views of the red and gold leaves blanketing the rolling hills and mountains. Take a scenic drive on winding, local roads and stop to pick fresh apples or go for a hayride at a working farm.

Although you will be in rural Maine, surrounded by trees, hills, lakes and rivers, there are some good dining opportunities on and around Sugarloaf. You will be able to find some of Maine's famous lobsters, of course, as well as other fresh seafood. But there are a variety of restaurants, from sports bars to steakhouses.

In Kingfield you can visit the Stanley Museum, the birthplace of the Stanley family who invented the Stanley Steamer automobile. In the museum are examples of steam engines as well as extensive photographs by and of family members, as well as actual steam cars.

When choosing lodging for your family you will have plenty of options. For the hardcore skiing enthusiasts (or those who just like to spend time at higher elevations), there are trailside condos providing easy access to the slopes, cross-country trails and snowshoe trails. Other options on the mountain are the Grand Summit Resort Hotel and the Sugarloaf Inn.

For a little more space and privacy for your family, you can also opt for Sugarloaf vacation rentals. While some of these are located on the mountain, many of them can be found in the surrounding towns. Sugarloaf vacation rentals generally offer all the amenities of home and often come in a range of prices, from budget to luxury. Designed with families in mind, Sugarloaf rentals are an excellent way to accommodate your family on your Maine vacation.

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