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If you’re new to winter outdoor activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding and ice skating, there are destinations throughout Maine that make trying these sports easy.
These locations feature easy trails, rental gear and comforting amenities such as snack bars and heated buildings where you can fuel up and warm up after hours spent in the snow.
Here are just a few of those winter destinations, perfect for beginners, with a map of additional locations below. Before visiting, always call ahead or visit a facility’s website to check on the conditions of trails, sledding hills and ice rinks. It may also be helpful to ask ahead of time about specific rental equipment.
You can find people snowshoeing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, downhill sledding and fat-tire biking all winter at Pineland Farms. The 5,000-acre property features more than 18 miles of trails, as well as fire pits, a warming hut and a welcome center where you can grab a bite to eat and a warm beverage. On the first floor of the welcome center, you’ll find a rental shop with skis, snowshoes, fat-tire bikes and sleds. There you can work with staff to plan out a good route on the trail network. The difficulty of trails are labeled on the map they provide.
Admission cost varies based on the activity you plan to do and whether you’re renting gear. For example, adult snowshoe passes are $10 a day, while adult ski passes are $18, and adult rental ski packages are $20. The parking lot is at 15 Farm View Road in New Gloucester. For more information, visit pinelandfarms.org or call 207-688-4539.
Enjoy the winter wonderland that is northern Maine at Four Season Trails, where people are free to use the trails, although membership is encouraged. The facility features a modern lodge, more than 8 miles of cross-country ski trails, a kid’s terrain park, a sledding hill with a ski-through tunnel and about 7 miles of snowshoe trails that weave through the ski system. Entirely run by volunteers, the facility regularly hosts races, ski lessons and other events for the community.
Ski and snowshoe rentals are available at the lodge, which is located near the end of Spring Street in Madawaska. An easy ski trail starts right at the lodge, as well as an easy 0.6-mile loop trail for snowshoeing known as the “Kids Loop” (which is connected to longer, more challenging trails). For more information, visit fourseasonstrail.org.
Not far from the state’s capital city, this trail network features 6.5 miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiers of all skill levels, criss-crossed with trails that are designated for snowshoeing. Also, fat-tire bikes are welcome on groomed ski trails when conditions aren’t soft. And the property is home to a big sledding hill.
A snowmaking system covers nearly 2 miles of the ski trails, providing consistently good skiing conditions throughout the winter. In addition, lights on a portion of the trail network allow skiers to remain active past sundown.
A welcome center is located in the yurt by the parking lot. There you can rent skis and purchase snacks. Rental snowshoes are available free of charge. An adult day pass is $12. Students and seniors are $8. Children ages 6 and under are free. Season passes are also available. The parking lot is located at 300 Quarry Road in Waterville. For more information, visit quarryroad.org or call 207-314-0258.
Located at Ragged Mountain, the Snow Bowl has nearly 1,000 feet of vertical elevation and more than 20 recently expanded runs for downhill skiers and snowboarders. Owned and operated by the Town of Camden, the facility features a large, heated lodge, where skis, snowboards and snowshoes are available for rent. Also at the lodge, a snack shack is operated by the Camden Bagel Cafe, offering sandwiches, bagels, salads, soups, burgers and more.
For those not interested in downhill activities, the Snow Bowl has scenic snowshoe trails and moderately challenging cross-country ski trails, as well as a toboggan chute that is open when conditions are right.
Skis, snowboards and snowshoes are available to rent at the lodge, and toboggans are provided at the chute. Tickets for a full day in the alpine area are $33 for adults, $25 for students, military and seniors, and $6 for children ages 5 and younger. Less expensive evening tickets, 3-hour tickets and lower mountain tickets are available, as are season passes. When the toboggan chute is open (typically weekends and weather permitting), the cost is $5 per hour per person. The lodge is located at 20 Barnestown Road in Camden. For more information, visit camdensnowbowl.com or call 207-236-3438.
A family-owned and operated ski mountain in the Bangor area, Hermon Mountain features slopes for downhill skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels, as well as 5 miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Also, at specific times, the mountain offers a 3-hour snow tubing experience.
Rental skis, snowboards and tubes are available for all ages in the heated lodge, where you can grab some hot food and drinks at the snack bar. The lodge also features many tables and chairs.
Cost of tickets for adults are $35 for a full day and $30 for half the day. For juniors it’s $30 for full day and $25 for half the day. And admission is free for children ages four and younger, and adults ages 70 and older. Season passes are also available. The mountain is located at 441 Newburgh Road in Hermon. For more information, visit skihermonmountain.com or call 207-848-5192.
Leased and operated by the nonprofit Friends of Squaw Mountain, Big Squaw Mountain features more than 20 easy and intermediate runs for downhill skiers and snowboarders, serviced by a chair lift.
The nonprofit group also grooms about 6 miles of trails for cross-country skiing, fat-tire biking and snowshoeing on the property. These trails wind through the surrounding area to Mountain View Pond and are available for people to use for free. A donation receptacle is located at the trailhead.
Rental snowboards and skis are available at the lodge. Ski and snowboard lessons are available for ages 5 and up. Full day tickets range from free to $30, depending on age. The lodge is located at 447 Ski Resort Road in Greenville Junction. For more information, visit skibigsquaw.com or call 207-695-2400.
More outdoor winter destinations
The map below shows the locations of the destinations described above, in addition to some other outdoor locations that are great for winter recreation. The destinations shown on the map offer equipment rentals, easy trails and amenities such as snack bars and warming huts.
In the future, we may expand this map to show locations that don’t have rental equipment but still offer great winter trails, as well as ice rinks and sledding hills. If you know of a place that should be added to this map, list it in the comment section of this story or email email@example.com.
Another good option for trying a new winter activity is to rent equipment at a local outfitter and visit a preserve or park in your area. For ideas of trails to explore, check out the Act Out Adventure Map at bangordailynews.com/act-out.