June 19, 2018
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How to explore Maine by snowmobile, starting in Newport

By Aislinn Sarnacki, BDN Staff

If you notice an abundance of pickup trucks hauling snowmobile trailers during the winter in the town of Newport, that’s because it’s a key location to hop onto miles upon miles of well-maintained snowmobile trails.

Starting at Newport and heading north, the 29-mile Four Seasons Adventure Trail connects the communities of Newport, Corinna, Dexter, Sangerville and Dover-Foxcroft. A gravel, multiuse trail, the Four Seasons Adventure Trail is also open to cross-country skiers, dog sleds and snowshoers, and in the summer, the trail is used by ATV riders, runners, bicyclists, hikers and horseback riders.

“The state bought that old railbed a number of years ago, and for snowmobilers, it’s great day trip,” Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, said. “It’s a leisurely ride from Newport up to Dover-Foxcroft to have lunch at the Bear’s Den [Restaurant & Tavern], and then back, maybe checking out a few side trails along the way. And it’s a comfortable ride from Newport up to Greenville to have lunch in Greenville and ride back.”

Branching off the Four Seasons Adventure Trail in Newport is a snowmobile trail leading west to Palmyra and another that strikes east to trails that ultimately run all the way to Winterport. Then, back at the Newport parking lot, another snowmobile trail heads south, running all the way to Augusta. And you can hop off that trail and ride to the west, all the way to Rangeley and beyond to New Hampshire.

Maine is home to approximately 14,500 miles of snowmobile trails, Meyers said. They create a network that covers the state like a giant net. About 3,500 miles of those trails are what’s known as Maine’s Interconnected Trail System, provided to snowmobilers through the joint effort of the Maine Snowmobile Association and the Snowmobile Division of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, Department of Conservation under the direction of the MSA Trails Committee. The other 11,000 miles of trails are the work of local snowmobile clubs and towns. Maine is home to 289 snowmobile clubs.

“We have this remarkable system and 95 percent of it is on private land,” Meyers said. “So the landowners are awesome. We work closely with them and the clubs. We have this $350 million [a year] industry build on mostly volunteer labor.”

Newport is a location where several of these trails converge, and it’s one of several towns in Maine that see a lot of snowmobiling patrons at their gas stations, hotels and restaurants each winter.

Other snowmobiling hubs in the state include, but are not limited to, the Millinocket area, Jackman, the Moosehead Lake Region, the Saint John Valley, Presque Isle and Rangeley.

“This weekend is Snodeo [in Rangeley], which is probably the biggest winter event in the state,” said Meyers, who added the snowmobiling event, hosted by the Rangeley Lake Snowmobile Club, typically attracts around 10,000 people.

Snowmobile riding has been great throughout Maine so far this winter, Meyers said. The thaw and rain that swept through the state last week turned trails to mush, but this week, with temperatures back down to below freezing and snowfall in the forecast, trails are reopening to riders, he said.

To plan your next snowmobiling trip, check out the online map of Maine’s Interconnected Trail System on the Maine Snowmobile Association website, mesnow.com, where you can also find links to snowmobile clubs and trail maps throughout the state. It’s also the go-to website for updates on trail conditions.

Directions to the Newport Four Seasons Adventure Trail parking lot: Take Interstate 95 Exit 157 in Newport and drive north on Route 7-Route 11 (also known as Moosehead Trail) for 1.2 miles and the large parking lot for the trail will be on your left, across the road from Varney Ford, which has the address of 237 Moosehead Trail. From the parking lot, Four Seasons Adventure Trail — heading north — starts across the road. Other snowmobile trails — heading south — are on the same side of the road as the parking lot.

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