48 Hours in Carrabassett Valley: Summer
With the Bigelow Mountain Range, Flagstaff Lake, and numerous hiking and biking trails in the area, Carrabassett Valley is an outdoor recreation destination that attracts a wide variety of visitors.
Foliage-filled drive and local food
The views of the mountains on the way north to Sugarloaf are beautiful. My parents and I check in at the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel. The hotel’s lobby with its big fireplace is so welcoming; even in the summer months it looks cozy and inviting. Our room, a two-story suite, is surprisingly spacious.
We have reservations at The Coplin Dinner House, a restaurant in Stratton with a frequently changing menu and an emphasis on local food. When we arrive, there are chickens roaming outside, and owner Heidi Donovan welcomes us. We order crab cakes that melt in our mouths. For a main course, I get the duck at the suggestion of our waiter. Everything is cooked perfectly and served with care.
Ziplining through the woods
We wake up early and walk straight to D’Ellies Bakery and Deli, a cute coffee shop at Sugarloaf that offers breakfast and lunch. I order a sandwich with cucumbers, sprouts, and house-made hummus. It’s not a typical breakfast sandwich, but the combination of flavors is outstanding.
Fueled up, we head to the mountain’s Outpost Adventure Center for our zipline tour. Our guides, Mathias, Brad, Tristan, and Kirby, get us fitted with safety gear before we take a van to the course. We’re all zipline newbies and feeling slightly nervous. The fear gives way to elation once I start my first run. We fly through the trees on the course, which features six different runs.
We are famished after ziplining and ready for lunch. The Bag and Kettle, also located on the mountain, has a wide assortment of food for lunch and dinner. We order salad and burgers, which are delicious and filling. The weather is gorgeous, so we sit outside and watch as people come in and out of the nearby shops. There are two weddings at Sugarloaf this weekend, and many of the guests are exploring the mountain before the ceremonies.
Scenic chairlifts and flooded towns
Next we head to the base of the SuperQuad lift for a scenic ride up the mountain. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the top, where we explore our surroundings. We are all blown away by the views—mountains everywhere we look. The vistas are even better on the way down, and we’re grateful to be seeing the region from a new perspective.
We travel to Eustis, a small town north of Sugarloaf, to visit Flagstaff Lake. We can’t see anyone else on the lake as we take our kayaks out on the serene water. The Bigelow Mountain Range overlooks the lake, which was created with the damming of the Dead River by the Central Maine Power Company. Several townships were abandoned and flooded in the process.
Ending the day by a fire
Tonight we’re having dinner at 45 North, located off the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel’s lobby. We order delicious cauliflower and mushroom side dishes and chat with a couple next to us at the bar who moved to the area so their daughter could attend Carrabassett Valley Academy. They say they love being here in the summer months, and after our day full of outdoor activities, we can’t help but agree.
We end the night like most of our day: outdoors. There’s a fire pit at the base of the mountain, and we join the crowd gathering around it as the sky darkens.
On the last day of our visit, we stop at the Kingfield Woodsman, a diner that serves an outstanding breakfast. The counter-service restaurant is filled with locals bustling in and out. After breakfast we visit High Peaks Artisan Guild, a Kingfield gallery and shop offering pottery, jewelry, and photography by local artists.
Carrabassett Coffee Company is a short distance from Kingfield’s village area, and we stop to grab a few bags of coffee for ourselves and for gifts. We refuel on coffee samples and make our way to Scent-Sations. This gift shop has a variety of fun knickknacks and bath and body products. We spend a while browsing through books and clothes. My mom and I want quite a few things but limit ourselves to some freshly made soaps that smell too good to pass up.
Fatties and memories
We continue our exploration of Kingfield with Rolling Fatties for lunch. The restaurant is located in a funky and historic farmhouse with eclectic decor. We order corn bread, salsa and chips, and the Fresh Veg Bowl with lettuce, beans, salsa, crema, and plenty of vegetables. The servings are generous, and we struggle to find room for it all.
On our trip home we reminisce about how relaxing this weekend has been. Not being skiers ourselves, we found summer to be the perfect time of year to explore this beautiful region.