Breathing in the fresh, cold air, she stood at the edge of a snowbank, her ski poles helping her keep balance as she snapped into her skis. She had nearly toppled over she heard the click of her boot fitting into the bindings. She was ready to go.
Arranging her feet parallel to one another, she set off on the groomed track, picking up speed as she found a rhythm. Kick, glide. Kick, glide. The snow, firm with a dusting of powder on top, was perfect for cross-country skiing.
She followed the trail into the frozen forest, through aisles of fir trees cloaked in white. At the slightest puff of wind, sparkling snow crystals rained down from branches overhead, landing without a sound. Quiet. Peaceful. Mysterious. The winter forest drew her in until she felt a part of it.
Swish, swish, swish. She moved through the trees with grace, her skis gliding over the snow, her breath condensing into puffs of icy fog. This was a reason to love the winter, she thought. This was a reason to celebrate each snow.
When there’s enough snow on the ground, one of the most popular activities in Acadia National Park during the winter is cross-country skiing. Of the 47 miles of historic carriage roads in the park on Mount Desert Island, about 27 miles are groomed for cross-country skiing by Friends of Acadia, a nonprofit conservation organization that supports the park.
Of those trails, the 3.3-mile Witch Hole Pond Loop is a popular, scenic ski route. Following the carriage roads around Witch Hole Pond, Halfmoon Pond and Duck Brook, this adventure features a few small hills and visits a gorgeous stone bridge.
Adding to the scenery, much of the twiggy vegetation around the ponds is vibrant red — a beautiful contrast to the snow.
Park admission is free from Nov. 1 through April 30. For more information, call 207-288-3338 or visit www.nps.gov/acad.
Directions: Cross the causeway onto Mount Desert Island on Route 3 and veer left where the road splits, remaining on Route 3. In about 7.8 miles, the road will become two lanes; stay in the right lane to turn right and enter Acadia National Park. At the stop sign, turn right to drive to the large parking lot of Hulls Cove Visitor Center. A short hiking trail leads to the Witch Hole Pond Loop at the west end of the parking area.
After Bangor Municipal Golf Course closes each November, it isn’t long before the property sees a new type of athlete. As soon as snow covers the course’s well-manicured lawns, it becomes a playground for winter recreators — cross-country skiers, snowshoers and ice skaters. With small, rolling hills and open terrain, it’s the perfect place for people of all ages and skill levels to enjoy the snow.
About 9 miles of trails are groomed for classic and skate skiing. These trails explore small hills and travel along the edges of the forest as they circle the greens. Also, a small loop trail is lit in the evening for skiers to enjoy after the sun goes down. Groomed by the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department with support from Penobscot Valley Ski Club, the trails are free for public use. To learn more, visit www.bangorgc.com or call 207-992-4490.
Directions: The golf course is located at 278 Webster Avenue in Bangor. From Interstate 95 Exit 183, turn east on Route 2 and take the first road — Norway Road — on your right. Drive 0.4 mile, then turn right onto Webster Avenue. Drive about 0.2 mile and the main parking lot for the golf course will be on your left. A bit farther down the road is a smaller parking area.
Easy to challenging
Located just outside downtown Waterville, Quarry Road Trails and Recreation Area is a hub for public recreation, featuring a vast network of intersecting trails, 7 miles of which are groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter. Traveling over hills, through the woods and along the banks of Messalonskee Stream, these trails vary greatly in difficulty and are labeled, with green trails being the easiest, blue trail being more difficult and black trails being most difficult.
With a state-of-the-art snowmaking system, the trail network has a longer ski season and more reliable snow conditions than other trails in the area. And for evening skiers, more than a mile of trail is lit until 9 p.m. each night.
Skiing on the trails requires a pass — ranging from $8 to $12 — which can be purchased at the Quarry Road Welcome Center Yurt near the main parking area. The yurt is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily during the winter and offers rental ski equipment and snacks. To learn more, visit quarryroad.org or call 207-314-0258.
Directions: Take I-95 Waterville Exit 130 and turn south onto Main Street. Drive about 0.6 mile, then turn right onto Eustis Parkway. Drive 0.6 mile, then turn right onto North Street. Drive 0.1, then turn right onto Quarry Road. Drive 1.3 to the main parking lot by the yurt.
This story was originally published in Bangor Metro’s January/February 2019 issue. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.