Skiers have been cruising down the slopes of Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton since sometime around 1935, when a group of local enthusiasts carved out the first trails. And nearly 80 years later, they’re still at it (and so are a lot of us), making it the longest continually operating ski area in Maine.
In-between there have been a number of “firsts” for this venerable ski area, known for so long simply as “Pleasant Mountain,” including Maine’s first T-bar, installed in 1953, and only the second chairlift in the state, installed in 1955.
The beautiful long mountain ridgeline rising above Moose Pond is still Pleasant Mountain, but the ski area, of course, is named Shawnee Peak, changed in 1988 when the financially troubled area was sold to Shawnee Mountain Corp. of Pennsylvania.
First things first, the new owners expanded snowmaking, added a double chairlift, improved the base lodge, and… added night skiing on the lower slopes of the mountain. A year later, night skiing was expanded to the very summit of the mountain, giving Shawnee Peak a big leg up in the industry with the most lit terrain in New England, a distinction it still holds with 19 trails, 2 terrain parks and 4 lifts at night.
It was 1989 when I first skied at Shawnee Peak. At night, of course. And I remember having a complete blast flying down the slopes under the lights. It was a bit weird at first, as I recall, surreal even, but we got used to it. The experience is no longer unique, but it’s still just as much fun. The night sky, the lights out in the distance, the view of the snow white surface of Moose Pond, well that just never gets old.
A few years back, for about five years running, friends and I competed every Thursday night for some twelve weeks with a team in the Racing with the Moon night racing league. Most of us sucked and posted crappy scores, but a few on our team were pretty good. It helped to take it seriously, but, um, uh, oh well. We’d get our two race runs in and the rest of the night was free skiing, interspersed with beer warm-ups in Blizzard’s Pub, where we always ended the night for “one more.” Good times all around.
Shawnee Peak offers night skiing every night of the week except for Sunday nights (holiday Sundays are an exception, when there is night skiing until 9 p.m.). On Mondays, night skiing starts at 3:30 p.m. and goes to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday nights, there’s skiing from 3:30 to 8 p.m. And on Friday and Saturday nights you can ski until 10 p.m.
Monday Night Madness offers the best lift ticket deal at just $13. Weekday nights are $25 and weekend nights are $32. One of the best ski deals in Maine in my opinion is the weekday Mid-Day ticket, which gets you skiing from 12:30 to close for $39. Woo-hoo!
Snow conditions at Shawnee Peak are fantastic right now, with this most recent storm(s) dumping a big white blanket on the mountain. So whether you go for some night skiing or want to make a day of it, get there and enjoy this old time mountain with all the modern touches and some of the best skiing scenery anywhere.
MORE INFO: Shawnee Peak, 207-647-8444.