There are many great cross-country skiing opportunities in the lower Penobscot Valley.
Many golf courses in our area allow skiing on the fairways. A few courses actually groom trails and offer some services; for example, the Barnes Brook X-C Ski Center in West Enfield (732-3006) is on a golf course along the Penobscot River. The Rocky Knoll Country Club in Orrington (989-0109) also grooms trails.
Thirty-two miles of Acadia National Park carriage roads re groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter. The Witch Hole Pond area, which can be skied in a 4-mile loop, is especially popular. There are loops around Eagle Lake (only groomed on the west side) to Aunt Betty Pond and a more challenging one around Jordan Pond and The Bubbles (mostly ungroomed).
The carriage trails on private land south of Jordan Pond near Little Long Pond are narrower and give a more backcountry feel to skiing through the woods. The ungroomed carriage road around Day Mountain offers nice views across the coast; more ambitious skiers can follow the carriage road to the summit of the mountain as well.
The carriage roads that abut Upper Hadlock Pond and go past Hadlock Brook Falls — the largest in the park — offer two groomed loops. When there is sufficient snow cover, people ski the Park Loop Road as well. Acadia Na-tional Park’s Web site has a good map and up-to-date trail conditions at www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm.
The Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust does not groom any of its trails, but many people still ski there. The trails — all old logging roads — wind through the valley and onto the shoulder of Flag Hill. There are also two backcountry lean-tos available for overnight camping. Rules for winter use are available at greatpondtrust.org.
The Bangor City Forest offers several miles of relatively flat groomed trails. The old Veazie railroad bed behind the City Forest is groomed as well. For the more adventurous this gives access to the Bangor Land Trust’s Walden-Parke Preserve, which has a nice loop trail that is not groomed.
Orono offers many groomed skiing trails. The University of Maine has trails throughout its forest and the farm-lands around it. These trails may be the most popular in our area. There is also a short trail along the Stillwater River that can be accessed from near downtown Orono.
Out toward Pushaw Lake, the Orono Land Trust maintains trails through Caribou Bog and on Newman Hill. Parking for these trails is located just outside the Orono town dump off Taylor Road.
The trail up Newman Hill requires some work, but offers views of Mount Katahdin on clear days. There is a cut-off trail that avoids the steepest section up the hill. An ungroomed section of trail connects with the Veazie railroad bed about a mile from the Bangor City Forest. This little used trail is impassible in the summer where it passes through a boggy area; the log posts that once lifted the railroad above the water are still visible.
There are, of course, other cross-country skiing opportunities in our area, but the trails here are a good place to start.