It’s hard to determine trail conditions while planning a winter hike with my family. There are message board websites that fellow hiking enthusiasts update periodically with their trail observations but these tend to be for the larger, more popular mountains. At 1,150 feet, Bald Pate Mountain Preserve in South Bridgton isn’t a spot that gets a lot of online updates. But we decided to try it anyway for a short – and what turned out to be very enjoyable – winter mountain hike.

When snow is around, my family reaches for cross-country skis because we love our skinny skis. And truth be told, when I suggest climbing a mountain in snowshoes I get a pretty unenthusiastic response. The kids enjoy climbing mountains no matter the weather but they simply don’t care for snowshoes. They think snowshoes are clunky and a hassle to wear.

I made the mistake of buying cheap snowshoes for my kids when they were little. Our first adventure wearing them was a frustrating – and thankfully short – trip that required constant binding adjustments. I don’t exactly regret cheaping-out because I found that my family really didn’t like snowshoeing. But I have found there are times we have to wear snowshoes as a necessity rather than by choice so I did invest in better gear a few years ago.

Once we decided on hiking Bald Pate, the girls and I accepted the fact that this trip would require digging out the snowshoes because a couple of years ago we tried to cross-country ski to this summit. The elevation gain is only a couple of hundred feet but it wasn’t as much fun as it initially sounded (we like to try new things but this wasn’t our best idea). Having learned our lesson that not every snow adventure is conducive to skis, we pulled out our other gear for Bald Pate. We also put traction devices on our winter boots with hopes of simply wearing them rather than the bulky alternative.

Thanks to the popularity of Bald Pate Mountain, we found packed snow and no need for snowshoes. The kids were more than happy to leave those behind in favor of regular boots. There were some icy patches on the hilly spots so we were glad to have worn the traction devices on our regular snow boots.

The summit view from Bald Pate is not an unobstructed panorama but there are spots between the trees that have wonderful views of the area. We spotted some of the summits we’ve climbed in the White Mountains and had us looking forward to planning our next hiking adventure there.

Bald Pate offers a family-friendly climb in the winter with little specialized gear required. Of course if you are visiting after a major snowstorm, snowshoes likely will be needed. But a few days after a storm, you can probably follow in the footsteps of the many others who visit these trails looking for a nice winter mountain view. There is a lot to recommend this spot for a family adventure, including the fact that canine friends are welcome, too.

Wendy Almeida can be contacted at: [email protected]

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