FIVE FIELDS FARM, BRIDGTON

After apple farmer Tom Greiger gets through grooming Five Fields’ Nordic trails or holding forth in the warming hut making change for skiers, he sometimes sneaks out to Shawnee Peak where he works on the ski patrol. When it comes to skiing, those Greigers are hard-core.

GROOMED TRAILS? Yes, approximately 27 kilometers, some of which connect with logging roads and link on to abutting land, including the Loon Echo Land Trust on Bald Pate Mountain.

RENTALS? Yes, including snowshoes.

HOURS: 9 a.m. to dusk, daily, snow permitting.

PRICE: Adults, full day $12, after 2 p.m. $10. Youth, $10 or after 2 p.m. $8.

BONUSES? You can bring your dog, anytime (“That’s my niche, a very liberal dog policy” Greiger says) and there’s a winterized retail stand, where you can warm up. Greiger hands out bottled water and granola bars for free. If you’re willing to break trails to the summit of Bald Pate Mountain, you might catch a view of Mount Washington on a clear day. Also, the place is hilly, so if you like a challenge (and speed) this is the place for you.

CONTACT: 647-2425 or fivefieldsski.com (snow conditions are online)

 HARRIS FARM, DAYTON

Although different branches of the family run the farm and the ski business, the two converge at the end of a cold day on the trails when skiers unsnap their ski bindings to visit the farm store. “Good people will go out of their way to buy good products,” says Dixie Harris, who runs the ski operation with her husband Bill, “and cross-country skiers are very conscientious people about the environment and their health.”

GROOMED TRAILS? Yes, approximately 40 kilometers, ready for both classic Nordic and skate skiing.

RENTALS? Yes, including snowshoes and pulk sleds (for pulling small children).

HOURS: 9 a.m. to dusk daily, snow permitting.

PRICE: Adults $15 on weekends, $10 ages 7-18, children 6 and under admitted for free.

BONUSES? Warm up in the farm’s lodge house with a wood stove, $2 hot dogs and $1 hot chocolate. Or bring your own snacks/lunches to eat in the sunroom. Meat and dairy products for sale in the farm store. On the weekends, dogs are allowed. Group and private lessons available.

CONTACT: 499-2678 or visit harrisfarm.com (trail conditions are online)

 PINELAND FARMS, NEW GLOUCESTER

When Pineland was putting in cross-country ski trails 14 years ago, it was hard for other farm-ski operations not to feel a twinge of jealousy. After all, Pineland boasts wide trails and plenty of parking, plus is (sort of) within snowball-throwing reach of the population- dense Portland-to-Brunswick corridor.

GROOMED TRAILS? Yes, approximately 30 kilometers, good for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing.

RENTALS? Yes. Both classic and skate skis.

HOURS: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, snow permitting.

PRICE: Day passes – adult $13 per day or $9 per afternoon (after 1 p.m.), senior/youth $9 per day or $6 per afternoon; Season passes are available .

BONUSES? Warm up with a hot drink or cup of soup and a sandwich at the Market. Go on a farm tour, or attend a family education program, where your kids can milk a cow or collect eggs from the farm’s chickens. Pineland also offers a free, groomed sledding hill (sleds rent for $3); a skating pond; and private, semi-private and group ski lessons.

CONTACT: 688-6599 or visit pinelandfarms.org

SMILING HILL FARM, WESTBROOK

This family-run farm is the same one that makes that amazing chocolate (and strawberry, coffee, etc.) milk. Plus, it’s near Portland. “A lot of people come to us because they don’t want to go so far away,” ski center manager Hillary Knight said.

GROOMED TRAILS? Yes, approximately 25 kilometers.

RENTALS? Yes, including snowshoes.

HOURS: 9 a.m. to dusk daily, snow permitting.

PRICE: Adult $12; youth 7 to 17, $8; children 6 and under, free. After 1 p.m., adult $8, youth $6. Annual passes are available.

BONUSES? A cafe/farm store for lunch, serving sandwiches and soup specials. Hot cocoa made with farm milk, obviously – and the farm recently brought back banana milk. Knight recommends the cheddar cheese curds. No dogs allowed, but expect to be greeted by the Smiling Hill farm cats.

CONTACT: 775-4818 (includes recorded trail conditions) or smilinghill.com

BAREBONE FARM FREEBIES

For skiers looking for a bargain, ie, free skiing on snow-covered farmland, here are a few operations that welcome skiers, with some groomed trails.

ALDEMERE FARM, 70 Russell Ave., Rockport 236-2739. Trails courtesy of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

BOWLEY BROOK, 420 Masterman Neighborhood Road, Weld, former owner John Graham says snowmobilers create the trails and skiers are welcome to join. Since Bowley Brook is a maple syrup operation, you can pick up a quart of syrup during your visit.

CRYSTAL SPRING FARM, 277 Pleasant Hill Road, Brunswick. Trails courtesy of the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust and the town of Brunwick. Park in the lot for the summer farmers market or in the Dionne Commons off Baribeau Drive and set out across the fields.

SWEET DREAMS FOOD AND FARM, 408 Dexter Road, St. Albans, 938-3951 Trails courtesy of benevolent owner Marie Kirven.


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