Embrace Winter


The easiest way to enjoy the snow is to strap on some snowshoes and hit your favorite trail.
While public lands are free to use, other privately owned trails may require a fee. Here are some of our picks:

Maine Land Trust Network of Trails
No matter where you live in Maine, there are trails to explore. Visit mltn.org to search for a land trust in your county. There are 28 land trusts in Cumberland County alone.

Maine State Parks
If you’re looking for pristine views and serene landscapes, check out one (or many) of Maine’s beautiful state parks. Visit maine.gov and search state parks by activity. There are more than 20 that tout snowshoeing trails. Kick your adventure up a notch and plan a winter camping trip. (Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.) Park fees vary.

Smiling Hill Farm
781 County Road, Westbrook
Just minutes from Portland, Smiling Hill Farm operates some extensive trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, with more than 15 miles of groomed wide trails that are perfect for families or groups. They offer rentals for kids and adults. Snowshoe day pass $8, $6 after 1 p.m., $6 youth snowshoe pass, $4 after 1 p.m. Rentals $10 for adults, $8 for kids. smilinghill.com/xcski.html

Roberts Farm Preserve
445 Main St., Norway
This preserve is part of the Western Foothills Land Trust in Norway, which is also home to the annual SnowShoe Festival, held Feb. 11-12 this year. This fun festival celebrates Norway’s rich snowshoe history and offers events for the whole family. Throughout the winter, the trails are free to use for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing (please no snowshoeing on the skiing trails). Snowshoe rentals also available at no charge. wfltmaine.org

Cross-country skiing

Looking for an outdoor activity that will burn major calories? Grab some Nordic skis and get your heart pumping. Cross-country skis might be easier to put on than snowshoes, but they require a bit more coordination to use. Learning is half the fun, and most people are fine to rent skis and learn on their own, but if you want a formal lesson, check for them at local ski areas or sign up for L.L.Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School cross-country ski course. Maine has a rich tradition of Nordic (a.k.a. cross-country) skiing. We’re lucky to have designated Nordic ski centers throughout our state. Visit skimaine.com and search trail conditions and trail maps. You can rent equipment and take lessons at most of these centers, too. Some of our picks:

Lost Valley Touring Center
200 Lost Valley Road, Auburn
These 10 trails are for cross-country skiing only. No snowshoers allowed. $10 day pass. Equipment rentals available for $20 for the day or $15 morning, afternoon or evening. lostvalleyski.com/nordic-trails.html

New England Outdoor Center
30 Twin Pines Road, Millinocket
Millinocket might seem like a far-away destination, but the views of snowy Mt. Katahdin alone are worth the trip. Use of the trails is by donation and rentals are $15. Be sure to check out the cabins and make a weekend of it. neoc.com

Pineland Farms
15 Farm View Road, New Gloucester
This New Gloucester farm grooms more than 18 miles of professionally designed trails that are used by professionals and newbies alike. $18 day pass, $10 after 1 p.m. for adults, $13 day pass, $9 after 1 p.m. for youth. $20 rental package for adults, $18 rental package for youth. pinelandfarms.org

Harris Farm Cross Country Ski Center
280 Buzzell Road, Dayton
This cross-country ski center near Biddeford offers wide-groomed trails as well as track set. Don’t know the difference? Don’t worry. Try them both and you’ll soon find out what you prefer. Weekend trail pass $15 adults, $10 youth. Midweek trail pass $12 adults, $8 youth. Equipment rentals $15 adults, $10 youth. www.harrisfarm.com

Fat biking

Fat bikes are becoming increasingly popular with outdoor enthusiasts. A fat bike is an off-road bike with oversized tires and rims. While fat bikes can be ridden any time of year, the special tires help riders navigate softer terrain—like snow! Here’s where to fat bike:

Rangeley Lakes Trail Center
524 Saddleback Mountain Road, Rangeley
Want to try out a fat bike before buying your own? You’re in luck! The Rangeley Lakes Trail Center has rental bikes—just be sure to call and reserve ahead of time. They can outfit up to 10 bikers with enough advanced notice. Fat bike rental is $25 for a half day, $40 for full day. Trail pass is $19 for full day, $14 for half day. rangeleylakestrailscenter.com

Maine Huts and Trails
Maine Huts and Trails includes four really sweet huts, but the word “hut” is a bit misleading. These are very comfortable, warm and spacious accommodations, which are connected to each other with a trail system. Those trails are great for snowshoeing and skiing and they’re also great for fat biking. Spend an afternoon riding, pop into a hut to warm up, or plan an overnight fat biking adventure. No trail fees. For trail conditions, mainehuts.org.

Carters X-C Ski Center
786 Intervale Road, Bethel
If you want to try out a fat bike and enjoy some stunning mountain views, head here, where there is a handful of bikes for you to rent and take out on the trails. Both this location and the shop in Oxford have cross-country skiing equipment, too. $15 trail fee for adults, $10 youth. cartersxcski.com

Ice skating

Channel your inner figure skater and hit the ice. Ice skating is a classic winter activity—family-friendly fun that still keeps you close to a warming hut and a place to sit down, should you need a break. Many community rinks are free and some also offer rentals.

The Waterhouse Center
51-55 Main St., Kennebunk
This rink is only partially open to the elements (it has a roof) and provides lots of fun no matter what the weather happens to be doing outside. Be sure to bring your own skates. Free skating. kennebunkmaine.us

Scarborough Ice Rink
20 Municipal Drive, Scarborough
This traditional outdoor ice rink is a great place to take the kids. One side is for people with sticks and pucks, the other is just for skating. Since it’s open to the elements, we suggest calling the hotline (207-883-7645) to check conditions before heading out. Free skating. scarboroughmaine.org

Alfond Arena
University of Maine in Orono
Attending a Black Bear hockey game is an experience; actually skating on the ice at Alfond Arena is a dream. Bring your own skates or rent them there for $5. Public skating is open year-round and costs $5. umaine.edu/campusrecreation/facilities/alfond-arena/

Melanie Brooks loves to write about Maine. Her work has been published in magazines and blogs throughout New England.

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