A vacation magnet since the late 1800s, Rangeley first attracted sports enthusiasts who came for the unspoiled air and the clean, clear waters. Summer remains prime time, but in winter, Rangeley draws outdoor lovers to ski and snowboard on Saddleback Mountain, to snowmobile the vast network of trails lacing the region, to snowshoe or cross-country ski on dedicated trails, to skate on Haley Pond, or simply to relax fireside and absorb the winter wonderland views over frozen mountain-cradled lakes.
New owner Travis Ferland is updating the downtown Rangeley Inn (2443 Main St., 207-864-3341, www.therangeleyinn.com, from $109 with breakfast, pets $15/night). Guest rooms in the main inn retain Victorian charm; those in the pet-friendly Haley Pond Lodge have mini-fridges and pond views. Panoramic lake-and-mountain vistas replace in-room TVs at the Country Club Inn (56 Country Club Road, 207-864-3831, www.countryclubinnrange
ley.com, $145 with breakfast, $225 with breakfast and dinner, $125 room only; pets $10/night). The family-pleasing Rangeley Saddleback Inn (2303 Main St., 207-864-3434, www.rangeleysaddlebackinn.com, from $125, pets $10/night), has an indoor pool and jetted tub, onsite restaurant and pub, and in-room TVs, microwaves, and mini-fridges. The sunset views over Rangeley Lake are sigh-worthy from Loon Lodge (16 Pickford Road, 207-864-5666, www.loonlodgeme.com, $85-$150), which also houses a popular restaurant and pub. Guests have plenty of room to spread out in the public rooms and five guestrooms, some with whirlpool tubs, of the Pleasant Street Inn B&B (104 Pleasant St., 207-864-5916, www.pleasantstreetinnbb.com, $145-$175, with breakfast), located on a quiet hillside less than half a mile from downtown. Smack downtown is the North Country Inn B&B (2541 Main St., 800-295-4968, www.northcountrybb.com, $99-$135, with breakfast), with four guestrooms. About 4 miles west of town, Hunter Cove on Rangeley Lake (Hunter Cove Road, 207-864-3383, www.huntercove.com, from $170, pets $10/day) has eight well-equipped cabins. Bald Mountain Camps (125 Bald Mountain Road, Oquossoc, 207-864-3671, www.baldmountain
camps.com, from $165, pets $15/night), a family-oriented traditional sporting camp, offers 14 recently winterized, rustic cabins edging Mooselookmeguntic Lake. Score first tracks with lodging in a trailside condo at Saddleback (976 Saddleback Mountain Road, 866-918-2225, www.saddlebackmaine.com, from $225).
Watch the game while chowing burgers, nachos, and hand-cut fries at Sarge's Sports Pub and Grub (2454 Main St., 207-864-5616), where more substantial entrées ($10-$17) are served after 5 p.m. Aim for a full-moon night to dine in the lakefront restaurant at Bald Mountain Camps (see Stay, $12-$30), where the menu ranges from sandwiches to rib eye. The Red Onion (2511 Main St./Route 4, 207-864-5022, rangeleyredonion.com/, $10-$20) attracts families with award-winning chili and pizza made from homemade dough. House-made soups, good salads, and heartier fare reel folks into Parkside and Main (2520 Main St./Route 4, 207-864-3774, $8-$22). White tablecloths drape well-spaced tables at the hilltop Country Club Inn (see Stay, $11-$30), where entrées range from a portobello burger to roast duck. Cozy and inviting, Forks in the
Air Mountain Bistro (2485 Main St., 207-864-2883, www.forksintheair
.com, $14-$26) serves small and large plates that may include flatbreads, paella, or hanger steak. The sunset view over Rangeley Lake is reason alone to arrive early at Loon Lodge (16 Pickford Road, 207-864-5666, $12-$31) for drinks and dinner in either the cozy pub or restaurant.
DURING THE DAY
Hit the slopes of Saddleback (see Stay, $49-$59 adult), where the 2,000-foot vertical drop off a 4,116-foot summit features classic New England trails and some of the East's best gladed terrain. The Rangeley Lakes Trails Center (524 Saddleback Mountain Road, 207-864-4309, www.xcski
rangeley.com, $18 adult) maintains 55 kilometers of mapped ski and snowshoe trails lacing through a preserve on lower Saddleback Mountain. A local skating club clears an ice rink on Haley Pond, and ice skates, free to borrow, are available from Ecopelagicon: A Nature Store (7 Pond St., 207-864-2771). Rangeley, which links to Maine's Interconnected Trail System (ITS) for snowmobiles via ITS 84, 89, and 117, has its own 150-mile groomed network. Popular rides include a 65-mile lake loop; all or part of the 300-mile Black Fly Loop; and Kennebago Mountain. Rental sleds are available from Camp Do What You Wanna (2419 Main St., 207-864-3000, www.campdowhatyouwanna.com, from $200 half day), and the Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club (www.range
leysnowmobile.com) operates a conditions hot line (207-864-7336). Shoppers will find a handful of stores downtown, while most cater to the outdoors crowd, there are a few worth seeking out. The Alpine Shop (Main St., 207-864-3741) carries a nice variety of clothing and home goods. Books, Line, and Thinkers (Main St., 207-864-4355) is a great source for good reads. Ecopelagicon (see above) is the go-to for eco-oriented gifts, books, toys, games, and cosmetics.
Fun central is Moose Alley (2809 Main St., 207-864-9955, www.moosealleymaine.com), home to a 10-lane bowling alley, an arcade, a billiards room, live music on Friday and Saturday nights, sporting events on 22 HD screens, and a pub-fare menu ($6-8). The Swig 'n Smelt Pub at Saddleback and Sarge's (see Dine) usually offer live entertainment on weekends. On clear nights, the stargazing is excellent.
Reach Hilary Nangle, author of Moon Maine, Moon Coastal Maine, and Moon Acadia National Park, through www.MaineTravelMaven.com.