My husband and I have an affinity for visiting locations in their "off-season." Mount Snow in July? Sign us up. Kennebunkport in Winter? Sounds like a dream.
We had a weekend coming up with nothing on the books and we'd been curious about visiting Sugarloaf for awhile. I hopped on AirBnB to see if anything might be available 5 days out and was met with multiple fantastic options for all super reasonable prices. Off season, folks.
Also, I am just going to say it now: this was our favorite adventure we've taken so far in Maine. I'll be checking myself as I write this to see if I am overly romanticizing it, but if this post sounds like a love letter to Carrabassett Valley it just might be.
We rented an apartment at Sugarloaf Mountain that was the lower level of someone's gorgeous mountain home. We were met with treats and wine when we walked in.
But first I need to talk about the drive here. October in Maine and especially this part of Maine, was unlike anything we'd really ever seen. The rolling mountains and changing of leaves was enough to even make Harper stare out her window for the long drive and take in the ridiculous beauty around us. Okay, it's already getting mushy, don't know what to tell ya.
Also, if there was ever a place to see a Moose this would be the place. And just to loop you in: seeing a Moose in the wild is quite literally a bucket list item that I talk about on the regular. I'm...obsessed with them and may or may not seek out adventures that put me in a strong position to potentially see one. Though I have come up moose-less on past adventures, you can't stop me from trying.
We arrived late afternoon on Friday, unpacked a bit and made a straight away to The Rack which was a 5 minute drive down the mountain. Simple, not fussy food in a super packed restaurant. Lively, fun and very kid friendly. A true après ski bar, even during golf season.
The next day we were up and at 'em early, because you know, kids. We swung by D'Ellies, a slope side bakery with easy breakfast options (we opted for the nutritious option of a bacon, egg and cheese) and were ready to start adventuring.
The day started with the Little Bigelow Hike which is a family & dog friendly hike that is part of the Appalachian Trail. It was just under 45 Minutes from the AirBnB and most of the drive was on a dirt road. The parking lot to access the hike is situated directly next to Flagstaff Lake. We spent some time skipping rocks down at the water and taking in the views, and then got lost finding the entrance to the trail. Some nice folks pointed us in the right direction.
The hike was an easy, fun start to our day and I was proud of how much our little one crushed it and what a champ she was walking. And because every hike deserves a ridiculously delicious treat, we made our way back to the mountain for a brunch I was very much looking forward to.
At Alice & Lulus, which is situated in the Sugarloaf Mountain Village, they offer a raclette cheese brunch. Like, the most insanely delicious cheese gets POURED ON TOP OF YOUR MEAL.
As you can clearly see, I was shooting for straight health this day.
As it wasn't their busy season and we were solo in the restaurant, we were able to chat with owner, Laura, for a bit as she happily indulged all of my prodding questions on this divine cheese and what it was like to live in Carrabbasset. She shared her love for the area and all that went into getting Alice & Lulu's open with her wife, Ciana. She basically convinced me to sell our house and move to the mountain.
We had planned to do a chair lift ride to take in more views, but frankly, I needed a nap after this meal. If I were to do it again, I'd recommend a chair lift ride first that will then swoop you directly into the loving arms of the raclette brunch that are steps away from each other.
After my cheesy slumber and a good walk for our pup around the mountain, we packed up for another adventure before a dinner reservation. I had been scoping out the Cathedral Pines Campground in Eustis not for camping, but for the views. It was on route to dinner, and I thought it might be a quick 30 minute adventure, but we happily ended up spending over an hour on the property.
The campsite was empty (again, off season = best season) and we were free to roam the opposite end of Flagstaff Lake from our earlier adventure. Our daughter was able to get all of her sillies out before dinner, run free through endless pine trees and delighted in discovering (and playing) on an empty playground.
We walked the water's edge and I did my best to capture the beauty around us.
We made a 5 minute drive to the sweetest of sweet restaurants, The Coplin Dinner House in Stratton. Chickens greeted us as they scurried throughout the property.
The restaurant is a special gem in this area. It's in a restored 1836 Farmhouse and the entire restaurant feels inviting and warm, while also being elegant. They were kind and patient with our little one and we definitely overstayed our welcome as I just didn't want to leave.
On Sunday, I planned for a couple quick adventures on our way back home. We made our first ever visit to Rangeley Lake and popped in and out of some stores where I bought totally unnecessary knick knacks. The little had a major meltdown in one of the stores and we were certain the town of Rangeley would ask us to leave and never return.
Though we were permitted to stay, we got the exhausted little into the car and made our way, with trinkets in tow, to a lookout spot I'd been obsessing over for quite some time. The Height of Land overlooks the entire Rangeley Lakes region and is one of those places where no picture will really do it justice.
Satisfied with a beautiful, extremely Maine weekend we started our drive home.
But then, as the sounds of "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" played from the backseat of our car, it happened. If I didn't do a sufficient job of foreshadowing at the beginning of this post, I'll just say it simply here: A MOOSE. As we turned a corner down a windy mountain, A MOOSE RAN ALONGSIDE OF US. And then it suddenly stopped. Walked slowly and magnificently in front of our car, crossed the street, stood on a FREAKING PERCHED LEDGE in all of it's glory for a solid 15 seconds, and then ran off into the distance.
With my literal jaw on the floor I managed to barely capture the one lame photo you see here: