Winter arrives in Maine’s western mountains, and a few nibbles and nods

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After a relatively mild winter, March roared in lionlike, with a major snowstorm that dropped upwards of a foot on Maine’s western mountains. Saddleback, Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Shawnee Peak, and Mt. Abram all benefited, and if you have any doubt about the conditions, don’t. They’re superb. It’s a white, white world in the mountains.

In the past week, I snowshoed into Flagstaff Hut for an overnight on the Maine Huts Trail and I skied Sugarloaf summit to base (western conditions on an eastern mountain!). My Nordic skiing friends are savoring the snow conditions, as are the snowmobilers, who finally have the perfect combo of snow and temperatures.

And if you’re thinking that this too shall pass, remember historically March and April are the snowiest months in Maine’s western mountains.

Nibbles and nods around Sugarloaf: Three places I want to share.

First, the Orange Cat, located in the building known as the Brick Castle in Kingfield. This is a must-stop for truly excellent, made fresh, hefty sandwiches with a dose of creativity, as well as good soups and enticing baked goods. (The cookies are my weakness.) The atmosphere is eclectic cool, and the Wifi is free. Stop for breakfast and sandwiches on the way to the mountain or for car food and caffeinated drinks on the way home.

Second, Black Diamond Burritos, in the base village at Sugarloaf. This place is so easy to miss. It’s located in the slopeside greenhouse above The Bag and next to the Board Room. Nothing fancy, just good, reasonably priced burritos. Only a handful of stools, so you might want to get it to go. And another hint: I find the child size plenty big enough. It’s fast, easy, cheap, and good. Brought to you by the same folks who operate Hug’s Italian restaurant.

Third, Nestlewood Inn, a B&B, just off Route 27 near Hug’s Italian Restaurant. What a find for those who want something more intimate than a hotel and cozier than a condo. It’s purpose built, and has a great fireplace for lounging around after skiing. Breakfast is included, it’s on the shuttle route, and you can walk to Hug’s for dinner. And do yourself a favor: Book a post-ski massage with in-house therapist Katie LeBlanc.