I’m a native Mainer and it’s no secret that I love where I live, but Maine winters can be long. They are bitter cold and snowy and if you don’t have fun things to do they seem neverending. I didn’t grow up skiing but since meeting Andrew 14 years ago I’ve broadened my winter activity horizens.
Andrew grew up skiing and snowboarding and he’s quite good at most winter sports. I, on the other hand am not that great at anything that involves a steep incline. I was once asked by ski patrol to remove my downhill skis and walk down mountain for fear of harming myself or others. Yep…that really happened. But I’ve grown to like cross country skiing aka Nordic skiing, and I also LOVE to snowshoe. I’m less likely to harm myself or someone else doing these activities. Here are some of my favorite spots to get out and explore in the winter.
Places with Rentals
Smiling Hill Farm has about 15 miles of groomed trails and is just minutes from Portland. The trails have varied terrain, including open field skiing, some hills and lovely wooded areas.They offer rentals for kids and adults.
Pineland Farms is home to over 5,000 acres of pastureland and forests for various outdoor activities year round. During the winter months, the trails are open to the public for skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing. Pineland has over 18 miles of professionally groomed trails for both classic and skate skiers. They also have deals after 1pm!
If You Have Your Own Equipment
Libby Hill Trails is a network of eight miles groomed trails open to the public daily for free. Trails vary on difficulty because the area is rather hilly. They are open 24/7 during the winter months so you can grab your headlamp for night ski, just be mindful of neighbors!
Gull Crest trails are part of a land trust in Cape Elizabeth. They take you through wooded areas, pretty boardwalks and even over a marsh bridge. There are some areas where you feel like you are deep in the woords while being in the center of town. These are very well groomed and maintained Nordic ski trails. This is a great place for night skiing, just make sure to bring your headlamp, it is dark! There’s a little donation box for the upkeep but otherwise it’s a free space.
Bradbury Mountain State Park is home to miles of trails that range in difficulty of steep climbing up to the top of the mountain to nice wide trails across the street. Make sure you grab a trail map, it will tell you which trails are open to skiers. Trails open to cross-country skiers include Boundary, Northern Loop, Ski, Switchback, and Tote Road. There’s a small fee that you pay in a little drop box to help maintain the property.
Evergreen Cemetery is the second-largest cemetery in Maine at 239 acres. You might think that skiing through a cemetery is a bit weird, but I got married at the chapel in this cemetrey so it’s not strange to me! Evergreen has an adjacent park with miles of wooden trails and four ponds. The trails also connect across the street to Baxter Woods. Trails are not maintained so be prepared for any conditions.
Golf Courses Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth is a beautiful place to spend a few hours in your outdoor gear. I honestly don’t know if they are groomed trails or just paths that were marked up by skiiers before me. There are lots of dips and small inclines so you get a great workout in. Riverside Golf Course is a 27-hole course with scenic groomed ski trails. Ski/Snowshoe routes wind through the golf course and along the banks of the Presumpscot River.Very pretty but also tends to be very busy.
Fresh air, exercise and vitamin D are so important no matter the season. Make sure you wear layers and bring plenty of water with you, it may be cold out but you will warm up quickly! Oh, and always tell someone where you’re going. I know that’s easy these days, if it’s not on insta did it even happen?!?!? Seriously though, especially if you venture out alone, let someone know what you’re up to. It’s winter, it’s nature, you may be clumsy…better safe than sorry!