Jan. 18—OK, winter, let's do this!
Sure, we've got our mountains for downhill skiing, but if that's not your bag, cross-country might be the ticket to getting out on the white stuff. Speaking of those big mountains, Lost Valley Ski Area in Auburn, Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, Titcomb Mountain, Saddleback Mountain and Sunday River in Newry all offer cross-country skiing.
Here are some cross-country skiing spots to visit this winter. It's always a good idea to call or check online for current conditions before heading out.
Bundle up and have a blast!
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Outdoor Center, 25 Campus Drive, New Gloucester, $20, $15 after 1 p.m., $16 seniors and youth, $12 after 1 p.m. pinelandfarms.org
Pineland has over 5,000 acres of woodlands and fields that are open to the public for year-round outdoor activities. For your winter adventures, there are 30 kilometers of professionally designed trails for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. They also rent equipment, so don't let a lack of it stop you from getting out there. If you're a newbie to cross-country skiing, Pineland offers private lessons. And be sure to hit The Market after you've gotten your fill of the trails to get your fill of coffee, baked goods and sandwiches.
9 a.m. to dusk daily. 280 Buzzell Road, Dayton, $15, $10 students, free for 6 and under Monday through Friday; $18, $15 students on weekends, holidays and school vacation weeks. harrisfarm.com
At Harris Farm, you'll find 40 kilometers of trails that will bring you across gorgeous open fields, thick forests (complete with babbling brooks) and a 600-acre dairy and vegetable farm. There's also a full-service rental shop with skis and snowshoes. Fat-tire bikes are also allowed on the trails when conditions permit. Repair to the lodge afterwards, where you'll find a wood stove to warm up by as well as several snacks including hot dogs. Rehydrate and recover with the farm's chocolate milk. If skiing isn't your thing, there's a terrific sledding hill in front of the lodge (bring your own sled).
Smiling Hill Farm
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 781 County Road, Westbrook, $12, $9 youth weekdays; $15, $11 youth weekends and holidays. smilinghillfarm.com
It might be best known for its animals and dairy products, but that's not all Smiling Hill Farm has to offer, especially in the winter. They've got about 25 kilometers of groomed trails, and the scenery is idyllic. Smiling Hill Farm also offers rentals. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trails Monday through Friday. If you plan your outing around lunchtime (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), be sure to hit the Dairy Store for sandwiches and homemade soups. Cold sandwiches, mac & cheese, soup and chop suey is available from 2-6 p.m. And there's no law against eating ice cream in the winter.
Carter's XC Ski Center
9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. 786 Intervale Road, Bethel, $22, $18 seniors, $12 youth. carterxcski.com
Carter's XC Ski Center offers 55 kilometers of trails that will keep beginners and expert skiers happy — as well as dogs, which are welcome with a $15 Doggie Day Pass. The center also offers an array of rentals for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Should you want a cross-country skiing lesson, you can schedule a private or semi-private one with longtime instructor Ann Speth, who coached high school nordic skiing for 26 years. For an even grander adventure, you can book a stay in one of the center's rustic, off-grid cabins. Carter's XC Ski Center, on the banks on the Androscoggin River, is on land that has been in the Carter family since the late 1700s.
Rangeley Lakes Trails Center
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 524 Saddleback Mountain Road, Rangeley, $22 (full day), $16 (half day), $15/$11 for seniors, military and ages 7 to 18, free for kids 6 and under free (lower rates for snowshoeing). xcskiresorts.com/rangeley
You'll find the Rangeley Lakes Trails Center at the base of Saddleback Mountain's alpine ski area in the heart of the western mountain and lakes region. With 55 kilometers of mapped trails for skiing and snowshoeing, you'll have plenty of options for your excursion. Duck into the yurt lodge for snacks, drinks and hot soup, or to rent equipment. Another perk is that there are plenty of places to stay at different price points should you want to make it a multi-day excursion. Lessons and guided tours are available by reservation.
Quarry Road Trails
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Waterville, $15, $10 students and seniors, $35 family. quarryroad.org
In Waterville, you'll find 8.2 miles of expertly groomed Nordic ski trails along with five miles of single track trails for mountain biking and snowshoeing. What makes this spot different is that it makes its own snow for part of the trail system, which guarantees primo conditions all winter long. Ski equipment and snowshoes are available for rent at the Quarry Road Welcome Center Yurt. If walking and hiking are more your thing, the 200-plus acres are open to the public free of charge (donations appreciated).
Inland Woods & Trails
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. 21 Broad St., Bethel, $22, $18 seniors, $15 youth, free for ages 6 and under. woodlandstrails.org
The Inland Winter Trails System's center uses The Bethel Inn Resort's golf pro shop as its winter headquarters. There, you'll find rentals for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat-tire biking. Skiing lessons are also available. As for the trails, there are just under 14.65 miles of them for cross-country skiing, categorized as easy, intermediate and difficult ,so you can plan your adventure accordingly (and safely). The names of several of them are whimsical and include Dick's Best Guess, Percolator and Harecut.
City of Portland
Multiple locations. portlandmaine.gov
Portland is an absolute cornucopia when it comes to places to go cross-country skiing, including a small, groomed trail loop at Deering Oaks Park. Groomed trails can also be enjoyed at Riverside Golf Course, which has a pair of side by side ones. Portland also boasts several great spots for cross-country skiing in ungroomed locales. Some may include rocks, logs and other obstacles, which may be better suited for skis with metal edges. The list includes Evergreen Woods, Presumpscot River Preserve, Baxter Woods, Canco Woods, Fore River Preserve, Virginia Woods, Oatnuts Park, Capisic Pond Park, Riverton Trolley Park and the Western Promenade.