Maine : Safety by City
- Bar Harbor
- Carrabassett Valley
- Presque Isle/Caribou
- South Portland
When you envision the great outdoors, you’re likely imagining Carrabassett Valley, Maine.
This western mountain resort town and the nearby city of Kingfield hold the key to outdoor adventures in every season.
Sugarloaf Ski Resort is in Carrabassett Valley, opening up trails for winter and summer fun with a world-class golf course on site too.
However, this is so much more than a ski town.
You’ll have Mount Bigelow and the surrounding preserve, a trail that runs the length of the river, and part of the Appalachian Trail nearby.
The Canadian border is an hour north, and you’re a good 2.5 hours from Portland, leaving nothing but mountain terrains to explore while escaping the hustle of life.
A bonus of this mountainous area is that the peaks aren’t high enough to get altitude sickness, but you still get incredible ski runs or hiking trails that rival those in the western U.S.
This region offers more rentals than hotels, and if you want to be close to restaurants, you’ll need to limit your geographical search, but there’s plenty of room for anyone.
Camping is also available in every direction.
The Sugarloaf Inn offers immediate access to ski runs or hiking trails.
There’s also a hostel in Carrabassett Valley where you can pay for a whole room or just one bed.
Breakfast is also free.
Carrabassett Valley also prides itself on offering restaurants to fit any budget, with several fine dining options for those who would prefer an Aspen vibe to for their apres ski meal.
Warnings & Dangers in Carrabassett Valley
OVERALL RISK: LOW
The only real risk here is being unprepared for the weather or wilderness. This is a safe community with no more than one violent crime per year for at least a decade. You're more likely to run into a moose or two than a criminal.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You'll need your own vehicle or pay for a shuttle to get to this region, as it is fairly remote. The Sugarloaf Explorer is a free shuttle with stops throughout the region, but you should check the latest schedule of stops to see how close one is to your rental.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
This is a low risk, but you should always use lockers at ski resorts and the safes provided in rentals to protect your valuables. The theft rate overall has been cut by a third since 2018, with just four reported in 2021.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Winter storms are both a benefit and a burden, as the fresh powder makes for great skiing but can also cause havoc. Treacherous roads, avalanche risks, dangerous cold, and ice storms can all spell trouble. Snow melt in the spring causes flooding risks and mud dangers on roads and trails. Summers can bring excessive heat or severe thunderstorms, which are dangerous for outdoor enthusiasts.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
This is another low risk, with no robberies reported since 2011.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
This isn't a concern in this county due to its rural nature. It's about as far away from civilization as you can get. If you aren't looking for Carrabassett Valley on a map, you likely won't find it.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Rental scams are the biggest concern here. You should never trust that a landlord is legitimate and ask for proof of a rental permit, references, and a video call to verify their identity. Never wire money to reserve a spot. Always use a credit card, so you have added fraud protection.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
This is a low risk of being a violent crime victim. As long as women are trained in wilderness safety and aren't trying to ski or explore beyond their abilities, this is a great getaway, whether it's a honeymoon or a weekend away with your besties.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The tap water here is safe and meets all requirements. One violation was reported in 2020 due to a failure to report information to the state, but the water quality wasn't compromised.
Safest Places to Visit in Carrabassett Valley
Mainesnorthwesternmountains.com is a tourism website run by the Flagstaff Area Business Association.
It covers Flagstaff Lake, Bigelow Mountain, Sugarloaf, and the rest of the northwestern mountain region of Maine.
The group also has a visitor’s center near Carrabassett Valley.
Before we head into the mountains, there are a couple of museums in this area to explore.
The Maine Ski and Snowboard Museum cherishes sports throughout the decades.
You can learn how skis were made in the sport’s early days and see some of the primitive equipment used to tear up the slopes.
A special section dedicated to Maine Olympians is now open.
In Kingfield, the Stanley Museum honors the founder of the “Stanley Steamer” automobile.
The family was well-known for their business adventures, including making violins.
Their legacy is enshrined in this unique museum that’s worth the stop.
Sugarloaf is a mountain resort that draws adventure-seekers all year long.
There’s something for everyone, from first ski lessons to backcountry cat-skiing adventures.
- Cat Skiing: Riding in a CAT vehicle to otherwise unchartered ski areas
- Cross-Country Skiing
- Ice Skating
- Sno-Go Bikes: Think “mountain biking on skis.”
- Nordic Skiing
- Uphill Skiing
The Outpost Adventure Center is the summer haven for explorers.
Activities available include:
- Boat rentals
- Chairlift rides for scenic views
- Disc Golf
The Anti-Gravity Complex is indoors with additional things to do, such as:
- Giant trampolines
- Skate park
- Rock climbing wall
- Fitness center
Shopping, dining, and equipment rentals/repairs are also available at the resort.
The resort’s website is Sugarloaf.com.
Bigelow Reserve is on the other side of the road from Carrabassett Valley, with alpine ridges that lead to Mount Bigelow.
At the base is Flagstaff Lake.
The Appalachian Trail runs through this section of wilderness.
You can explore from wetlands to the alpine ridge, reaching 4,150 feet above sea level for those who summit.
If you reach one of the peaks above 4,000 feet, you’ll get 360° views of the Maine mountains.
The Narrow Gauge Pathway runs along the Carrabassett River for six miles.
You can travel this path any way you’d like if you aren’t using a motorized vehicle.
The town grooms the trail for cross-country skiing in the winter.
If you want to get a little “out of the box” with your adventure, visit MaineHuts.org.
This company provides backcountry experiences through a series of huts along 80 miles of trail.
You can get as much or as little assistance as you want, but they’ll help you plan a perfect trip suited to your taste and skills to really get deep into the woods.
How deep into the woods are we talking?
You can’t drive to your hut.
You must get there on your feet, skis, bike, or paddle.
Places to Avoid in Carrabassett Valley
As far as crime is concerned, you don’t need to worry about that here.
While that doesn’t give you permission to let your guard down and go crazy leaving your car unlocked with your keys inside, it does give a breath of relief from the wave of violent crime sweeping America.
You should avoid doing activities beyond your physical and/or mental ability.
For example, the Maine Huts sounds pretty cool sitting in the comfort of your home, right?
Then you realize it might take up to eight hours to get to your hut, and you could have to walk that distance in the summer heat or trek through the snow.
Backcountry skiing is fun, but it’s more dangerous for those who don’t have experience on groomed trails.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Carrabassett Valley
- The police chief of Carrabassett Valley is Mark Lopez, and he’s very welcoming to any questions or concerns. He invites people to reach out to him or stop by the police station to talk. You can also call by dialing (207)237-3200. The department’s Facebook page is “Carrabassett Valley Police Department.”
- Follow #FranklineCountyEMA1 on Facebook to stay in touch with the Emergency Management Agency in Franklin County. The social media page is much more robust than the website. You can also email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. While emergency weather information will be posted there, you can also learn about safety tips such as woodstove tips and protecting pipes in cold weather.
- Use New England 511 to navigate the roads here. Winter can lead to closures or delays, while spring and summer can lead to construction that causes detours. You should also note that if you see a road that is a logging trail, that is not for public driving.
- When renting a car in the winter, ask the company representative if you need studded tires or tire chains when heading into the mountains. No studded tires are allowed from May 1 to October 1.
- Checking the weather is important here, even if it’s “just rain.” When rain falls on snow, it’s a double whammy of water coming down the mountains and into the river. It can impact float trips and trail integrity or cause flooding on popular paths.
- Spring brings a lot of snow melt, and it’s actually known as “Mud Season.” Don’t drive down a muddy road, even if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle. You could get stuck and have no way to call for help. Trails can also become very muddy to the point where your shoes get sucked off your feet.
- This region has a lot of two-lane highways, and you’ll be sharing the road with many semi-trucks. You can’t pass a semi unless there is a dotted line in the center of the roadway on your side of the road. Don’t ever pass on the shoulder for the safety of other vehicles and because of the sharp elements that could blow out your tires. Be patient.
- Backcountry skiing is as invigorating as it is dangerous. The advice from Sugarloaf experts is to always travel in groups of three and never go out after 3:00 pm. Even the backcountry areas have boundaries, so don’t go beyond the property lines. Read additional safety advice on Sugarloaf’s website.
- For those spending time on the rivers or waterways of Maine, you need to check the water conditions before you go. Use safewaters.com or call 1-844-430-FLOW (3569) to get daily information. The snow runoff and weather can lead to elevated risks on otherwise docile waters.
- Mobile phone service is very spotty here. You’ll be more likely to get a signal at a summit and be in a dead zone if you’re in the valley. Your provider should have a map that shows where coverage begins and ends. You might have coverage to send texts but not photos, so limit mobile device use until you’re hooked up to Wi-Fi.
So... How Safe Is Carrabassett Valley Really?
Here’s an example of how safe Carrabassett Valley is – the police department posted a surveillance video on its Facebook page.
At first glance, you assume this is a suspect in a crime, right?
Instead, this was a picture of a man who left something at a local restaurant, and the owner wanted to return it, so he asked the police to put the photo out on social media.
The city had six crimes in 2021.
Six – across all possible crime categories submitted to the FBI.
You won’t get much safer than that, but again, don’t let your guard down.
You will have to know a lot about outdoor and wilderness safety.
If you haven’t ventured into the backcountry before, you should consider taking a lesson or getting training at home.
This is truly unplugged and rugged land out here with some of the most beautiful and untouched parts of nature you’ll find in America.
You’re also on your own if you get lost and haven’t taken the proper steps.
If you aren’t sure you’re ready for the ruggedness of Carrabassett Valley, Bethel is another outdoor town with amenities that might be more suited to a well-rounded vacation and not quite so extreme.
Either way, enjoy your time in Maine and share your comments and advice below.
How Does Carrabassett Valley Compare?
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You'll need a U.S. Visa issued by the U.S. State Department to get through Customs at an American airport. The requirements will differ if you are flying into Canada or coming from Canada. The IRCC (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada) oversees the visa process in Canada. Please review the U.S. Border Patrol information for crossing into Canada and returning to the U.S.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. Canadian dollars aren't accepted. Don't wait until you get here to exchange currency. In fact, you'll get the lowest exchange fees if you take care of that at home before your trip.
Average summer temperatures only reach the 70s(F), with lows in the 40s(F) at times. You'll need warm clothing any time of year, but you'll be comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt most summer days. Any other time of year, pack winter clothing and dress in layers, so you can peel them off if you become warm. You'll need more than tennis shoes here. Hiking boots with strong ankle support are the safest. Bring bug spray, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Portland International Jetport is about 2.5 hours away, but add more time to that trip if you're traveling in winter when the road conditions can cause slow traffic or delays.
We recommend as much travel insurance as you can get here, as the weather can disrupt flights, cause sudden ski resort closures, or leave you stranded for a few extra days. Explore outdoor insurance possibilities, so you're not concerned in case of an accident.
Carrabassett Valley Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Maine - Safety by City