Snow conditions for cross country skiing started out promising in December but as many know, Southern Maine’s winter weather can be a mixed bag. My family has learned it is best to take advantage of a good ski day even if it means working around an already busy schedule. Thankfully we live near some free public trails that offer fun winter adventures for busy families.


WHERE: Portland

The groomed trails – and great sledding hills – at the golf course make these trails a popular place for families in the Portland area. But it’s also worth the drive for those outside the city. My family’s favorite time to ski these trails is close to sunset (mostly out of necessity in trying to squeeze in a trek after school). There are lights along the edge of the golf course, and despite several miles of groomed trails, you’re never very far from your car. If you’ve never watched the sunset over these trails in the winter, you need to add this to your bucket list.

GETTING THERE: The trailhead is at 1158 Riverside St.


BATHROOM: At the clubhouse when open

FEE: Free, donation box at trailhead


OTHER: For novice and classic skiers, these groomed trails can feel a little fast because of the skate skiers. If you stick to the classic tracks on the right you’ll avoid any “passing” or “on your left” signals coming from behind you. There is a winter ice skating rink and lots of sledding hill options here as well.


WHERE: Cumberland

Twin Brook typically has groomed trails through the woods and open fields on both the Greely Road side as well as Tuttle Road. My family enjoys skiing on the Tuttle Road side because we enjoy the short loops – Morton and Inner Loop trails – through the woods. Morton is a half-mile of twists and turns with a little hill action to pick up speed, while the Inner Loop Trail is only 0.4 miles and more level. The day we visited these trails (right after a big snow storm), the trails were not groomed. But as high school racing season starts, there is a flat oval track groomed (weather permitting) for a skate skier’s delight.

GETTING THERE: There are two trailheads, one on Tuttle Road and the other on Greely Road.



FEE: Free, donation box at trailhead


OTHER: No dogs permitted on Tuttle Road trails to keep competition trails open for skiers, but dogs are welcome on Greely Road trails.


WHERE: Standish

These are ungroomed, but because it’s a multi-use trail, there is a flatted, almost groomed-like feel from snowmobile tracks to offer a nice cross country skiing experience. Some folks don’t like sharing the trail with snowmobiles – I agree that sometimes they do drive intimidatingly fast – but regular users of this trail system are accustomed to sharing the trail linking the Otter Ponds to the Mountain Division Trail. We’ve found the drivers of the snowmobiles to be courteous in slowing down while passing skiers. And if you go on the trails looping around Otter Ponds you won’t see many motorized machines. My family likes to take the main trail to the YMCA camp to ski along the edge of the pond and then loop back to the trailhead.

GETTING THERE: The trailhead is at Johnson Field on Route 35.



FEE: Free


OTHER: There is a warming hut by the skating rink at Johnson Field. There are some benches set up along the trail that can make for a nice spot for a snack break.

MORE ONLINE: You can find interactive maps of these trails at

Wendy Almeida can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter & Instagram: wea1021

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