saddleback at a glance
We’re proud of this mountain and everything it offers, and if you give us half a minute (ok, maybe just a bit longer) we’ll be happy to tell you all the reasons why. But sometimes you just need the simple facts, which is why we’ve created this page. That said, we still hope we’ll get a chance to bend your ear about all the other reasons Saddleback is so great.
- Base elevation: 2,120’
- Summit elevation: 4,120’
- Vertical drop: 2,000’
- Annual average snowfall: 250”
- Number of chairlifts: 3
- Named runs: 67
- Skiable acreage: 440
All lifts open at 8:30 am on weekends and holidays, and 9:00 am on weekdays. They close on a staggered schedule as follows:
- Kennebago Quad: 3:30 pm
- Rangeley Detachable Quad: 3:45 pm
- South Branch Quad: 3:55 pm
Lift and Trail Status
Saddleback is home to three quad chairlifts for the ‘20/’21 season, with more to come in the near future.
The South Branch Beginner Terrain Quad Chairlift accesses 354-vertical feet of beginner-friendly terrain. It’s the perfect choice for new skiers of all ages.
The Kennebago Quad Chairlift delivers 960- vertical feet of expert and intermediate terrain, along with some of the best views in New England.
The brand-new Rangeley Detachable Quad Chairlift serves a variety of mixed terrain., whisking skiers and riders up 1,177-vertical feet in just over four minutes.
Trails and Terrain Parks
Saddleback boasts 67 trails and two terrain parks, so no matter your skill or style, you’ll find lots to love.
- 23 Green Beginner/Easier Trails
- 20 Blue More Difficult Intermediate Trails
- 17 Black Most Difficult Trails
- 7 Double Black Extremely Difficult Trails
Approximate driving time from major metro areas (in hours):
- Boston, MA: 4:20
- New York City: 7:45
- Portland, ME: 2:30
- Hartford, CT: 5:40
- Montreal: 3:45
- Quebec City: 3:45
Saddleback is located in the legendary Rangeley Lakes Region of Western Maine. Interstate 95 is the primary access highway from Maine, Southern New Hampshire, Southern New England and New York City South. Just East of the Town of Rangeley, take Dallas Hill Road (at the IGA grocery store) and follow signs to Saddleback
FROM POINTS SOUTH (Portland, Portsmouth, Boston, Providence): Take I-95 to Maine Turnpike to Exit 75 in Auburn. Take Rt.4 North through Farmington to Rangeley. OR Take I-95 to Augusta Exit 112B then follow directions under Augusta.
FROM AUGUSTA: Take Rt.27 North to US 2 West. At Farmington take Rt.4 North to Rangeley and Saddleback.
FROM BANGOR: Take I-95 South to Exit 157. Take US 2 West to Skowhegan and Farmington, then Rt.4 North to Rangeley.
FROM VT & NORTHERN NH: Pick up US 2 East to Gorham, NH. Take Rt.16 North then Rt.4 to Rangeley.
FROM MONTREAL: From Colebrook, NH take Rt.26 to Errol then Rts.16 and 4 to Rangeley.
FROM CANADIAN MARITIME: From Calais, ME, take Rt.9 East to Bangor then follow directions under Bangor.
BY AIR: Portland and Bangor, ME airports are 125 miles (2.5 hour drive) from Rangeley. Car rentals available there.
In the six decades since the first T-Bar started spinning, a lot has changed at Saddleback. And while every ski mountain has its own history, we think it’s pretty safe to say that few have experienced quite so many twists and turns as ours. Here are just a few highlights from the past 60 years.
The Early Years
After years of planning and months of trail work, Saddleback officially opened to skiers on December 31, 1960, with a single T-Bar serving the Wheeler Slope. By the end of January, a second, upper mountain T-Bar opened, giving skiers access to Grey Ghost and Hudson Highway. For the ‘63-’64 season, Saddleback installed the 4,600-foot Mueller double chairlift, which at the time was the longest chairlift in Maine. This achievement was followed by two dismal winters (the ‘63-’64 season lasted for five weeks, while ‘64-’65 saw a whopping two weeks of operations). The mountain was put on the market, and in 1965, Saddleback was acquired by J. Richard Arnzen for a reported $140,000. Arnzen owned Saddleback until his untimely death from cancer in 1972, at age 53.
The Middle Years
Over the following three decades, Saddleback changed hands five times, including to Massachusetts businessman Donald Breen, whose aspirations to create the “Vail of the East” were thwarted by a legal dispute with the National Park Service. The Park Service sought to seize 3,000-acres of Saddleback land as part of its conservation efforts for the Appalachian Trail, which runs across the mountain.
After years of negotiations, the National Park Service and Saddleback reached a deal in which the Breens donated 570 acres along the Appalachian Trail corridor, while selling the 600 acre back bowl for $4 million. While the deal meant Breen could move forward with his development of the resort, the long battle with the government had consumed millions of dollars and nearly two decades of his life. Now in his 70s, Breen was ready to retire. In 2001, the massive resort property was put on the market for $12 million.
The Next Century
Following the 2002-2003 season, the Breen family announced that they would not operate the ski area in 2003-2004. And as fall approached, it looked like Saddleback would indeed cease operating. In September, a Saddleback skier and condo owner named Bill Berry approached Breen and offered to buy the ski area.
Following their first season as owners, the Berry family started an aggressive expansion plan. For 2004-2005, the main lodge was dramatically expanded, the main chairlift refurbished, and the lower mountain expanded into the novice South Branch Area with a new quad chairlift. Dramatic long term plans were also released, involving the development of new real estate and multiple new trail pods and lifts.
The Berry’s continued investing in Saddleback for the next several years, but in December 2012 the Berry family announced Saddleback was for sale. In September 2015, the family announced they were in negotiations with multiple potential buyers, but a deal remained elusive, and the mountain did not open for the ‘15-’16 season. An effort to establish a non-profit cooperative to operate the ski area also failed to materialize, and the area sat idle during the 2016-17 season, as well.
On June 28, 2017, the Berry family announced they had reached an agreement to sell Saddleback to the Australia-based Majella Group. Grandiose plans were announced, as Majella declared it would be "turning Saddleback into the premier ski resort in North America." However, despite announcements that "physical work" had started in September and that the company was "committed to opening in some capacity for the 2017-18 ski season," the area remained idle that winter and the sale was not completed.
Nearly one year after the original sale announcement, the Majella Group CEO Sebastian Monsour was arrested in Australia for alleged investor fraud, revealing a financial house of cards. The Majella branding was removed from the Saddleback web site that fall and the ski area sat idle during the snowy winter of 2018-19.
New hope emerged in March of 2019, when Boston-based Arctaris Impact Fund made an offer. Talks continued for months, culminating in the purchase of Saddleback in January 2020. With the purchase, Arctaris announced plans to install a high speed quad and to reopen the ski area for the 2020-21 season.
Which brings us to today, and the resurrection of Saddleback, which could not have been possible without the efforts of all who have come before, and the remarkable support of the Rangeley community, the donors who gave so generously and to Arctaris Impact Fund, who support us now. For all of this, we are grateful and honored to be giving the Saddleback family its home back.