January 16

Stay on top of Maine's snow with cross-country skis and snowshoes

A roundup of where to find trails, lessons and rentals.

By Shannon Bryan sbryan@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

All this early winter snow in Maine means it’s sometimes difficult to get around. Those knee-deep drifts make a leisurely winter walk more effort than it’s worth, and the fear of cracking your coccyx on account of a slippery sidewalk prevents some folks from leaving the house altogether. This winter, it seems, the dogs will have to walk themselves.

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Tom Valente of Portland cross-country skis in Portland. This winter, a number of events for ski and snowshoe fans are planned in Maine.

2013 Press Herald file photo

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Additional Photos Below

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Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing events


A few hours of winter fun on the groomed and backcountry trails with Natural Resources Council of Maine and Hidden Valley Nature Center staff. For beginners and experienced snowshoers. Snowshoe rentals available.

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 1

WHERE: Hidden Valley Nature Center, Jefferson

HOW MUCH: $5 donation

MORE INFO: hvnc.org/events-and-workshops 


Activities all day, including yoga, technique clinics for skate skiing and classic skiing, from beginners to advanced, equipment supplies, clothiers and outfitters.

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 9

WHERE: Bethel Nordic Ski Center, Bethel

HOW MUCH: $30 for NENSA members, $35 for non-members

MORE INFO: www.nensa.net/women


Roam the meadows and woods of Fields Pond Audubon Center under the light of the moon. Enjoy a hot drink back in the Center to warm up.

WHEN: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 12

WHERE: Fields Pond, Greator Bangor

HOW MUCH: $5 Audubon members, $10 non-members

MORE INFO: maineaudubon.org


Leisurely paced hikes along the Eastern Trail under the light of the moon. One hike in Scarborough, one in Biddeford.

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12

WHERE: Eastern Trail parking lot, Pine Point Road, Scarborough


MORE INFO: www.easterntrail.org


WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14

WHERE: Maine Medical Center parking lot, Biddeford


MORE INFO: www.easterntrail.org


A weekend of activities, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing excursions, snowshoe festival, snowshoe hike with cookout, outdoor film screenings and more.

WHEN: Feb. 14 to Feb. 16

WHERE: Various locations around the state

HOW MUCH: Many activities free

MORE INFO: greatmaineoutdoor weekend.org

(OK, maybe not so much this week, what with the rain and all, but we can all agree that the snow is certain to return. In force.)

You’re certainly welcome to submit to self-inflicted house arrest until the spring thaw begins, or you can take to pushing a salt spreader wherever you go, like some personal safety baby carriage. But the best of your living-with-winter options is: Get out there. Get in it. Own the snow. And for the record, it’s easier to do with a pair of skis or snowshoes on your feet.

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are both easy to learn and they can make the difference between a happy winter and a homicidal one. And there are countless trails around the state that are regularly groomed and accessible for free or a small fee (read: these are budget-friendly winter sports).

If either sport is new to you, there are several area ski centers that offer rentals and lessons, like Carter’s XC Ski Center in Oxford, Harris Farm XC Ski Center in Dayton and Pineland Farms in New Gloucester.

In Freeport, L.L. Bean offers Outdoor Discovery Schools for both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The $20 classes include equipment rental, instruction and an hour or so out there doing your thing and doing your best not to fall down. They’re also an ideal way to test out a sport before committing yourself (which we all know can be scary, both emotionally and financially).

But more likely than not, you’re going to fall in love with the sport and wonder why you wasted so many winters indoors, bored out of your gourd and hugging the television set for warmth.

And best of all, you’ll learn “the turtle” – a wonderfully awkward-looking method of getting back up after you fall down in a pair of cross-country skis. And I assure you, you will fall down. But just think, in no time at all you’ll be cross-country skiing to the grocery store during a snowstorm, just because you can.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails, lessons and rentals: 

Beech Hill XC Ski & Snowshoe Center

296 Tucker Road, Wayne; 207-685-9281; www.beechhillski.com

Eleven kilometers of wide, groomed trails on varied terrain for intermediate cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. $10 a day for adults.

Bethel Nordic Ski Center

21 Broad St., Bethel; 207-824-6276; www.caribourecreation.com

Thirty kilometers of trails groomed for both skate and classic skiing, eight kilometers of snowshoe trails. Rentals and lessons. $19 trail fee for a full day, $15 after 1 p.m. 

Birches Ski Touring Center

281 Birches Road, Rockwood; 800-825-9453; www.birches.com

Forty miles of marked, groomed trails, ranging in difficulty from novice to high intermediate. Rentals available, $14 full-day trail pass for adults, $11 half-day.

Black Mountain

39 Glover Road, Rumford; 207- 364-8977; www.skiblackmountain.org

Seventeen kilometers of trails, groomed for both skating and classic techniques. Rentals available. $15 trail pass. 

Carter’s Farm XC Ski Center

786 Intervale Road, Bethel; 207-824-3880; www.cartersxcski.com

Fifty-five kilometers of beginner to expert trails, backcountry skiing, rentals available. $14 trail pass for adults.

Carter’s Farm XC Ski Center

420 Main St., Oxford; 207-539-4848; www.cartersxcski.com

Thirty trails for beginner to intermediate skiers. Large selection of equipment, rentals available. $14 trail pass for adults.

Five Fields Farm

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Additional Photos

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Jamie Nonni, left, and Will Rowan, both from Portland, break a new trail while cross-country skiing at Willowdale Golf Club in Scarborough.

2009 Press Herald File/Tim Greenway


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