Portland-based hiker Pat Lyons wraps up a trip around Hawke’s Preserve, which starts just outside Great Falls Elementary School in Gorham. Lyons said the hike makes for a relaxing outing, especially on a mild winter’s day. Chance Viles / American Journal

With great views and visible animal tracks, winter hikes are a great family activity and there is no shortage of spots in Southern Maine to check out.

There are many trailheads for hikers and snowmobilers in the winter, but not every place is family-friendly. If you are looking for a good time with the younger ones, this list has you covered.

For most trails, it is recommended to utilize shoe spikes at the least and bring water and snacks for longer outings.

Rachelle Curran Apse of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, recommends Hawke’s Preserve Trail, which begins at Great Falls Elementary School in Gorham.

If you park at the school, it’s a 1-mile loop and a third of that loop is on an old path,” Apse said. The trail, which runs along the Presumpscot River, “is pretty mellow, and a third of it is super wide and flat.

Black Brook Preserve has some light inclines, but overall is a good hike for families. Chance Viles / American Journal

There is plenty of parking and hikers are treated to a lake view at the beginning, before working deeper into the trail.


“We put a story walk on this trail as well where you can progress and read a story with your kid; it’s a lot of fun,” Apse said.

In Windham, Apse also recommends Black Brook Preserve, with the trailhead right by Windham Town Hall.

Registered Maine Guide Kevin Piccone said he likes to take easy hikes at the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust trail network, which is pretty flat and easy.

“This a great place for those beginners of all ages and wouldn’t lead you up on the side of a mountain somewhere,” Piccone said. “It’s hard to get lost and the trailheads are well marked.” 

Another good hike in Kennebunkport is the Edmund Smith Preserve, he said.

Ducks swim in a pond in Hawke’s Preserve. Presumpscot Regional Land Trust Director Rachelle Curran Apse said winter hikes are good for finding animal tracks and trails. Chance Viles / American Journal

In Cape Elizabeth, Piccone recommends Robinson Woods, and in South Portland, he recommends Hinckley Park.


“These all can be done in a few hours, you don’t have to get up early or be out late, but it is simple enough you can do it at night with headlamps,” he said.

While Apse would recommend Westbrook’s Millbrook Preserve, with a trailhead off Methodist Road in the summer, she highly suggests avoiding it in the winter unless you are experienced and want a real challenge.

Millbrook is marked with steep hills and rocky faces that, when frozen over, can give a challenge to even the most seasoned hiker, and at times reminds Apse of difficult portions of the White Mountains.

“You have to be ready for this; you do not want to be surprised heading here,” she said.

Piccone and Apse both recommend shoe spikes for these hikes, which can cost as low as $20. Snowshoes also work, though they tend to be pricier and are not as easy to carry around.

Picchone also said not wearing cotton is important, as it freezes when wet. Wear wool or synthetic materials.

“These trails are great because they get people comfortable with the outdoors,” Apse said.



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