More often than not, this outdoorsperson welcomes the New Year with some late-night revelry at Sugarloaf followed by a day of downhill skiing. But for 2015, my wife and I opted to be holiday flatlanders, joining college friends at a cozy camp on Branch Lake in Ellsworth.

Jan. 1 dawned clear and cold, and after a hearty breakfast we headed out for a half-mile ramble up the old fire warden’s track on 1,261-foot Bald Mountain in nearby Dedham. This old favorite of mine features grand views ranging from New Hampshire’s Presidential Range to the long and undulating crest of Maine’s western mountains all the way to Katahdin. Closer in you get a nice look out over Phillips Lake and Lucerne-in-Maine; to the south are the mountain profiles of Acadia, Blue Hill and the Camden Hills. Not bad for a 15-minute hike.

Another reason this hiker enjoys Bald Mountain is for its history as a ski area, one of more than 65 “lost” downhill areas – mostly small community ski slopes – that have long since gone out of business. Billed as “Maine’s biggest little ski area,” Bald Mountain operated from the late 1930s to 1976, its demise brought on by a notorious lack of regular skiable snowfall, among other reasons, I’m sure.

Maine’s rich skiing heritage dates back nearly 150 years, and if you’re as fascinated by the topic as I am, then you too probably will enjoy exploring on an off-trail at these old ski areas. Sometimes you’ll discover reminders of skiing days past, like old ski runs and lift lines, lift towers and concrete stanchions, cables, lift shacks and such. Other times there’s no evidence, the forest having reclaimed what once was. Either way, as a hiker and a skier, I find it fascinating to try and picture in my mind’s eye the old style ski equipment, the natural snow trails, the laughter of kids having fun in a simpler time.

Bald Mountain is just one of at least a dozen former Maine ski areas that also sport hiking trails, making access for your wanderings a little easier.

Hike to the top of Mount Agamenticus in York and you’ll be greeted by the large brown summit ski lodge (now a nature education center) of the “Big A” ski area, which served skiers from 1966-74. Parts of the rope tow and T-bar remain at the top and bottom of the northwest slope. An old snow roller sits near the top of the T-bar, near where adjacent Sweet Fern Trail descends to follow an old ski run.

The granite dome of Jockey Cap in Fryeburg is the site of the first rope tow in Maine, erected in 1936 for $250. Lights illuminated the slopes of the hill (another first), which was served by a snow train from Portland. Nothing remains, but the vista from the Peary monument on top is outstanding.

Two tiny ski areas once operated on Bauneg Beg Mountain in North Berwick. From 1938-58, the Bauneg Beg Ski Club ran a rope tow with an open slope and the Devil’s Den Trail. From the mid-1990s until around 2007, the Legere family ran Bauneg Beg Ski Trails just north of the former area. The nearby hiking trails of the Bauneg Beg Mountain Conservation Area, owned by Great Works Regional Land Trust, make a fine hour-long circuit.

Other sites of former ski areas where hiking trails are found include Bradbury Mountain in Pownal, Burnt Meadow Mountain in Brownfield, Mount Megunticook at Camden Hills State Park, Streaked Mountain in South Paris, Enchanted Mountain in Jackman, Douglas Mountain in Sebago, Sabattus Mountain in Lovell, Poland Spring Preservation Park, and Bald Mountain in Oquossuc.

For more information, go to Lost Maine Ski Areas at Glenn Parkinson’s book, “First Tracks: Stories from Maine’s Skiing Heritage,” is a terrific read. The Ski Museum of Maine ( is also a good resource.

Carey Kish of Southwest Harbor is the author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes on the Maine Coast (Spring 2015). Follow Carey’s adventures in his Maineiac Outdoors blog at: maineiac-outdoors