Cross-country skiing is just one of several sports that take place on the trails of Pineland Farms in New Gloucester. Photo by Phil Sauvignano

Perhaps the most beloved spot in Southern Maine for cross-country skiing, Pineland Farms has more than 18 miles of trails maintained with high-end grooming equipment.

“We have, usually, the best conditions for cross-country skiing in the area,” said instructor Muzzy Barton, a semi-retired lifelong cross-country skier from Cape Elizabeth. “Cross-country skiing is considered one of the most physically demanding sports, working every part of the body. And it’s a lifelong sport.”

The cross-country trails at Pineland are so well maintained that teams from Bates and Bowdoin colleges and several regional high schools in Greater Portland practice here, despite the commute to New Gloucester.

But Pineland isn’t just for competitive athletes. With skis, boots, poles, helmets and snowshoes for rent and lessons available, Pineland is a good place to try out cross-country skiing or snowshoeing for the first time. Even if you have your own equipment, stop at the Outdoor Center for trail maps and to pay the trail fee and get a sticker. Trail passes are $18 per adult for cross-country skiing, $12 after 1 p.m.; $13 for youth, $9 after 1 p.m.; and free for children 6 and under. Snowshoeing trail passes are a bit cheaper: $10 per person, $6 after 1 p.m.

Difficulty levels vary not only from trail to trail, all of which are one-way, but also in changing weather conditions. New snow or ice of any kind can make easier trails more difficult.

If old-fashioned hiking is more your speed, the trails are open to that at no charge before they are groomed and tracked for winter, the timing of which depends on snowfall. A late fall hike isn’t out of the question as long as you’re not seeing grooves in snow.

Also, before Pineland is completely blanketed, you may be able to get in a game of disc golf on one of the two 18-hole courses ($5 a round). The staff tries to keep the courses maintained in winter, but call ahead if you have your heart set on disc golf.

Right up until trails are snow-covered and groomed, mountain biking is welcome with a $10 trail fee. Post-snow, the Outdoor Center rents fat tire bikes ($30 for rental and trail pass for two hours).

A groomed sledding hill is open to free, public use, with sleds for rent in the Outdoor Center for $12, if needed. Also available are chariots to pull kids along the snow ($16 for an hour).

For ice skating, look for the pond on Intervale Road (Route 221). Pineland maintains the ice (the old-fashioned way, not with a Zamboni) and posts whether it’s solid enough for skating. There’s no charge but no rentals either. If you’re lucky, the fire pit will be burning.

No trip to Pineland Farms is complete without stopping at the Market and Welcome Center, even if only to warm up a bit and browse the Maine-centric groceries, gifts and toys. There are tables for folks who pack picnic lunches, but it’s usually more fun to fuel up at the Market Deli.

Pineland Farms, 15 Farm View Drive, New Gloucester, open daily, hours vary, call Outdoor Center at (207) 688-6599 or Market and Welcome Center at (207) 688-4539. For more information, including trail conditions, go to pinelandfarms.org.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]

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