Saddleback Mountain, Rangeley, Maine
207-864-5671, saddlebackmaine.com, $45-$299
Mark Robie, head of instruction programs, focuses on “taking the factory element out.” You won’t find “magic carpet” conveyor belt lifts here, packed with beginners as on some kind of assembly line. Saddleback has an impressive 4 miles of beginner terrain, featuring novice glades and a terrain park, separated from the more advanced trails of the mountain’s 2,000-foot vertical. Children ages 3 to 6 get one-on-one instruction, and every class carries a maximum of five skiers or riders, no matter age or level of ability. According to Robie, those are the lowest ratios that aspiring skiers and riders will find anywhere. Yes, the remote Saddleback is a hike (about 220 miles from downtown Boston), but it is one of the most unique, satisfying, and underrated ski areas in the Northeast. The same might be said for Robie’s teaching approach.