Bobcat Loop passes through an open field. Ron Chase photos

Fans of Nordic skiing at Harris Farm are legion. I’m one of them. After weeks of waiting through a succession of rainstorms and unusually warm weather, I was pleased to learn the family farm in Dayton was receiving heavy snowfall on Jan. 7.

I checked the Harris Farm website during the day of the storm. Their home page announced they were carefully monitoring the progress of snow accumulation and would post an update the following day.

Early the next morning, they reported about a foot of white powder had fallen and trail grooming was underway. Most of the trails were open and the wait was finally over. My gear was quickly packed and I was off to Dayton for an invigorating day of skiing. In advance of my departure, I sent an email to the usual skiing suspects informing them of my intentions.

There is much to like about Harris Farm skiing. For me, its relative proximity to my home in Topsham as opposed to a much longer drive to the mountains is an important factor. Another big attraction: I can ski the perimeter trails in a predominantly wilderness setting for in excess of two hours without once repeating a section of trail.

A classic skier glides along on Joe Buzzell Lane.

When I arrived at the Ski Hut on Buzzell Road, the main parking lot was full. Fortunately for me, a car was leaving as I entered. There was no sign of my friends, but I clearly wasn’t going to be lonely. When I bought a pass, the hut manager suggested applying maxi-glide to my skis as the fresh powder would likely slow my speed. The folks at Harris always proffer good ski advice, so I dutifully followed her recommendation.

It was cold and sunny when I crossed Buzzell Road and began skiing Joe Buzzell Lane in an open field. Thanks to the hut manager’s advice, I enjoyed a fast kick-and-glide while proceeding on well-groomed, classic tracks.


I turned right onto Cold Water Brook Trail and passed into a thickly wooded area on a twisting path. Snow clinging from trees added a magical quality to the surroundings. Early on, a wet sector needed to be skirted, but the remainder of the trail was in good condition. After leaving the forest, I crossed a field and reentered Joe Buzzell Lane.

Several skiers were met while traveling over gentle hills in a mixed hardwood and conifer forest. I continued skiing the west-side perimeter on Buzzell Extension and Libby Lane Trails. At one location, a giant smiling snowman provided an entertaining distraction.

After circling a spacious, sloping field next to Waterhouse Road, I entered the hilly Farm Forest trail system. Undulating Gaze Trail led to the steepest decline of the day, Express Way. I held a firm snowplow for much of the precipitous descent and then rejoined Joe Buzzell Lane and followed it back to the Ski Hut.

Two vehicles belonging to friends were parked in the lot, but they were out on the trails when I began skiing the east-side network. The afternoon excursion started with a steep climb up Maternity Loop followed by a rolling ride through an expansive pasture to Bobcat Loop.

A skate skier climbs a hill on Pole Barn Run.

Expertly groomed Bobcat Loop continued over a wooded hill to David’s Pasture Trail where I met an acquaintance at the junction. He reported my friends had been looking for me at the Ski Hut. We remarked on the excellent ski conditions, reminisced about previous kayak adventures and skied on.

Unfortunately, outer Bobcat Loop and Sokokis Woods Trail were ungroomed beyond David’s Pasture. Unable to complete my usual routine, I returned on Bobcat to the junction for Pole Barn Run on the right. I ascended to the top of a hill on Pole Barn and waited for a skate skier who was vigorously climbing the other side. After finishing the arduous effort, she expressed delight at being back on the Harris Farm Trails.

I continued gliding through a sizeable field back to a cow barn next to the Ski Hut completing what I hope is the first of many Harris Farm visits this winter. My friends were still out having fun.

My book, “Maine Al Fresco: The Fifty Finest Outdoor Adventures in Maine,” relates two more entertaining ski adventures and numerous winter expeditions.

Ron Chase resides in Topsham. His latest book, “Maine Al Fresco: The Fifty Finest Outdoor Adventures in Maine” is available at or in bookstores and through online retailers. His previous books are “The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery” and “Mountains for Mortals — New England.” Visit his website at or he can be reached at

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