Cross-country skiers at Pineland Farms, which is moving its Outdoor Center to a bigger space this winter. Photo courtesy of Pineland Farms

With southern Maine’s abundance of farms and nature preserves, it’s easy to get out on snow-covered trails without spending more time in the car than outdoors. Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Harris Farms in Dayton and Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook maintain trails and rent out all the gear you need to try a variety of outdoor activities. You can rent fat-tire bikes with friends at Pineland, take ski lessons at Harris Farm or take your leashed dog for a weekday snowshoe run at Smiling Hill Farm. And if you have your own gear, there are even more options.

Pineland Farms has 18 miles of professionally designed, well-kept trails for Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and fat-tire biking.

“Skiing is our bread and butter,” said outdoor recreation director Matt Sebasteanski. “For Nordic centers, we have the most to offer in southern Maine.”

The facility also offers winter disc golf and ice skating. With all these options, Pineland sees about 35,000 recreation visitors each winter.

The big change this winter is that the outdoor recreation center is moving to 25 Campus Drive (a space formerly occupied by the YMCA), where it will have more room for rentals, a large lodge (where the Y had a pool), a gym and four lanes of bowling.

Skiing prices are staying the same as last winter – $20 a day or $15 after 1 p.m. ($16 per day or $12 for afternoon for seniors, free for children 6 and under). Prices for equipment rentals for all activities are on the website. Skating is still free, but you have to bring your own skates. The website also has the latest on trail, sledding hill and skating pond conditions and updated trail maps.

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The Pineland Farms Market (15 Farm View Drive) will no longer be right next to the rec center, but it’s worth the 0.4-mile drive across the Pineland campus for something hot to drink, a deli sandwich or a fresh baked cookie.

8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 25 Campus Drive, New Gloucester, 207-688-6599. pinelandfarms.org

If you’re new to cross-country skiing, Harris Farms offers lessons. Photo courtesy of Harris Farms

Harris Farms has 25 miles of trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat-tire biking open December through March, as snow conditions allow. Stop by the shop, where you pay the fee for day use ($15 mid-week, $18 weekend, discounts for children) or buy a season’s pass ($140, $75 for ages 7-18) and can rent skate skis ($27), snowshoes ($12, $8 children), cross-country skis, boots and poles for children ($10) and adults ($20), and pulk sleds ($10 per hour). There’s a sledding hill onsite. If you’re looking to learn how to cross-country ski, Harris Farms offers lessons by appointment, with the lesson, rental and trail fee bundled for beginners at $50. Additional prices and a trail map are available online.

9 a.m. to dusk daily, conditions permitting, 280 Buzzell Road, Dayton. harrisfarm.com

Smiling Hill Farm, just minutes from Portland, grooms more than 15 miles of trails for classical tracked skiing. As of last winter, day passes were $12 midweek, $15 on weekends, with discounts for children; season passes were $100, $75 for children. Smiling Hill also rents snowshoes ($10, $8 children) and Rossignol ski packages ($15, $10). Your dog can join you on the trail on weekdays if on a leash. For the current trail conditions, call 207-775-4818. Stop by the farm store for fresh dairy products, including eggnog.

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, conditions permitting, 781 County Road, Westbrook. smilinghill.com

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MORE TO EXPLORE

If you have your own gear, just want to hike or are planning to rent off-site – Gorham Bike & Ski, which has locations from Wells to Waterville, rents snowshoes for $15 a day and cross-country ski packages for $20 a day – here are some other nearby trails you can hit up for free.

Gilsland Farm
20 Gilsland Farm Road, Falmouth. maineaudubon.org
Maine Audubon’s headquarters are on a 65-acre sanctuary with more than 2 miles of trails winding along a pond through forest, meadow, orchard and salt marsh, open year-round. Hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing welcome. The visitor center and nature store are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Wells Reserve at Laudholm
342 Laudholm Farm Road, Wells. wellsreserve.org
Easy to moderate trails are open to the public all winter for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A trail map is available online.

Wolfe’s Neck Center
184 Burnett Road, Freeport. wolfesneck.org
More than 3 miles of trails open to the public all winter for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing.

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


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