In response to a weekend story about snowshoe races, which included a list of popular Maine snowshoe spots, several readers asked for the BDN Outdoors to compile a similar list of cross-country ski areas.
So, without further ado, here’s an incomplete list of cross-country ski areas throughout the state:
View Maine cross country ski trails in a larger map
– Quarry Road Trail: Located at the end of Quarry Road in Waterville, this loop cross-country-ski trail is a part of the Kennebec Messalonskee Trails system, a number of trails located throughout the towns of Oakland, Waterville, Winslow, Benton and Fairfield. The Quarry Road Trail is multi-use, four-season trail that winds approximately 3 miles through the woods between Quarry Road and Messalonskee Stream. It offers views of the stream, hemlock and pine stands, a field and the former Colby ski slope. Hills and turns make portions of the trail challenging. For information and trail map, visit www.kmtrails.org.
– University of Maine in Orono trails: The university is home to about 15 miles of multi-use trails that are groomed for cross-country skiing, located in the DeMeritt Forest. The trails, mainly rated intermediate and easy, are free for the public to use. People can rent cross-country skis, boots and poles at the nearby Maine Bound Adventure Center. To rent the full cross-country ski package for three hours is just $5 for members and $7 for nonmembers. For information and to reserve rentals, call 581-1794 or visit umaine.edu/mainebound.
– Appalachian Mountain Club trail network: The network of AMC trails set in the state’s 100-Mile Wilderness region (near Greenville) has become a popular destination for Nordic skiers across the country, and is free to use. The network offers more than 80 miles of ski trails on over 66,000 acres of conservation and recreation land. And if you want to stay out in the wilderness for several days, consider sleeping and dining at one of the club’s three backcountry lodges, where you can enjoy a hot shower and meals. For information, visit outdoors.org and choose Maine Wilderness Lodges under the “Lodging” tab. A winter trail map can be found at outdoors.org/pdf/upload/kiw_winter-trails-2013.pdf.
– Bangor City Forest: The Rolland F. Perry City Forest encompasses 680 acres of wildlife habitat and working forest in Bangor, and featured more than 4 miles of access roads and 9 miles of trails, many of which are used for cross-country skiing (as well as other sports). For a map of the cross-country ski trails, visit bangorinfo.com/cityforest/Maps/cross-country-skiing-trails.pdf. For information, visit cityforest.bangorinfo.com.
– Maine Winter Sports Center Nordic Heritage Center: This community recreation area — located on Route 167, 5 miles east of Presque Isle — is open to the public free of charge. The center includes a lodge, more than 12 miles of ski trails, terrain park and a visitors center with ski rentals. Lodge hours are 6 a.m.-10 p.m.; and ski trails are lit from 4:30-8:30 p.m. daily. For information, visit www.nordicheritagecenter.org or call 762-6972.
– Birches Ski Touring Center: Located by The Birches Resort (281 Birches Road) in Rockwood, this ski center is located on a privately-owned, 11,000-acre nature preserve by Moosehead Lake. The Birches has 40 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, on which three yurts are located for skiers to camp overnight. Cross-country skis can be rented at the resort. For information, call 800-825-9453 or visit www.birches.com.
– Maine Huts & Trails network: This lengthy trail network brings adventurists of all skill levels into the western Maine wilderness, whether it be for a few hours or multiple days. The system’s 80 miles of trails are open and free to use year-round. And four wilderness lodges offer recreationists warm shelter (including hot showers) and meals. The trail can be accessed by several trailheads from West Forks to Carrabassett Valley. Pets are now allowed overnight stay at any of the huts. And only during the summer season (April 15-Oct. 15) are dogs welcome on the trails. For information, including maps, visit mainehuts.org or call 265-2400.
– Sugarloaf Outdoor Center: Sugarloaf may be best known as an alpine ski resort, but just minutes from the base area is Maine’s largest cross-country ski center, with more than 55 miles of groomed trails. The nordic area also includes a newly renovated lodge with ski rentals and an NHL-sized ice skating rink. The Outdoor Center — located off Route 27, a mile south of the Sugarloaf Access Road — hosts numerous races and family-friendly events throughout the snow season. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday-Friday; 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays and holidays. Daily rates for trail access range from free for children 5 and younger to $20 for a full-day adult pass. For information, visit www.sugarloaf.com/outdoorcenter/index.html or call 237-6830.
- Bethel Nordic Ski Center: Located at the historic Bethel Inn at 21 Broad Street in Bethel, this center includes more than 20 miles of classic and skate groomed trails for novice through advanced skiers (as well as 5 miles of snowshoe trails). An on-site ski shop includes rentals and lessons. The center also includes a fireside lounge, sauna, ice skating, sleigh rides, kick sleds and pulk sleds. Admission rates vary from free for children under 5 years old to $18 for adult full day trail tickets. For information, call 824-6276 or visit bethelinn.com or www.caribourecreation.com.
– Aroostook State Park: Located near the northern Maine city of Presque Isle, the state’s first state park, established in 1939, has long been a winter destination. The park, now nearly 800 acres, offers a groomed 15-mile ski trail system with two warming huts for visitors to rest next to a fire. Admission varies from free to $2, depending on age and residency. For information, visit maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/doc/parksearch/details.pl?park_id=7 or call 768-8341.
– Bigrock Skiway: Known as a downhill ski area, Bigrock — located at 37 Graves Road in Mars Hill — is also home to nearly 25 miles of cross-country ski trails. Visitors can also warm up in a lodge that serves a variety of hot food. All-day lift tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for kids 5 and younger, and free for seniors 75 and older. For information, call 425-6711 or visit www.bigrockmaine.com.
– Carter’s X-C Ski Center: Located in both Bethel and Oxford, Carter’s X-C Ski Center offers 43 miles of cross-country ski trails — almost 34 miles in Bethel and nearly 19 miles in Oxford. The Bethel area, located at 786 Intervale Road, is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. every day. The Oxford area, located at 420 Main Street, is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. every day. Daily trail rates range from free for children 6 and younger to $14 for adults. For information about the Oxford location, call 539-4848; Bethel location, call 824-3990; or visit www.cartersxcski.com.
– Beech Hill X-Country Ski and Snowshoe Center: This center, located at 296 Tucker Road in Wayne, is home to nearly 7 miles of wide, groomed trails on 80 acres of varied terrain for intermediate cross-country skiing. The center also offers a warming hut, comfort stations and free hot drinks. Trails are open 9 a.m.-sunset, conditions permitting. Access for adults is $10 per day, $100 for a season pass. Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by a parent or guardian. For information, visit 685-9281 or visit beechhillski.com.
– Sunday River Outdoor Center: Located at Sunday River Inn at 23 Skiway Road in Newry, the outdoor center offers miles of cross-country ski trails. As of Jan. 12, the center had enough snow to open nine trails, totaling about 12 miles. Daily rates range from free for children 6 and younger to $18 for a full-day adult pass. Season passes are also available, as well as rentals. Hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily. For information, call 824-0348 or visit www.theoutdoorcenter.net.
– Four Seasons Trail: This trail network and lodge, located at 425 Spring St. in Madawaska, offers a five-mile cross-country ski trail system. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available at the lodge. This outdoor area is free to use. It is maintained by Four Seasons Trail Association, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting healthier lifestyles for people of the community. For information, visit fourseasonstrail.org or call 1-207-433-5805 (dial all numbers, even if you are local).
– Libby Hill Forest Trails: This recreation area — located at 50 Libby Hill Road, behind the Gray-New Gloucester Middle School — consists of more than 8 miles of multi-use trails. To use the trails, park in a gravel lot just before the the paved Libby Hill Road ends at the school. Do not proceed up the gravel road or use the ATV trail at the left corner of the parking lot. The trails begin on the school grounds on the other side of the chain link fences that surround the athletic fields. For information, visit libbyhill.org or call 370-0480.
– Maine Winter Sports Center Tenth Mountain Ski Center: Located more than 900 feet above sea level in Fort Kent, this center is both a biathlon and cross-country facility that consists of 15 miles of ski trails, of which about 2 miles are lit for night skiing. There are three access points to the trails, but the center is located on the Paradis Circle Road, 1.6 miles south of the traffic light at the center of town on Route 11. Use of buildings and grounds is free. For information, visit10thmtskiclub.org or call 834-6203.
– Rangeley Lakes Trails Center: Nestled on the side of Saddleback Mountain, this four-season trail system offers 34 miles of cross-country ski trails. Day passes vary in cost from free for children ages 6 and younger to $18 for a full day pass for adults. Season passes are also available. A rustic yurt, located 2.5 miles off Dallas Hill Road on Saddleback Mountain Road, serves as a lodge. Ski and snowshoe rentals, hot and cold beverages and a variety of snacks are available at the yurt during the snow season. For information, visit rangeleylakestrailscenter.com or call 864-4309.
– Acadia National Park: Though most of Park Loop Road is closed during the winter, as well as park facilities, such as the Nature Center, the park’s 45 miles of Carriage Trails are ideal for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. You can also ski and snowshoe on unplowed park roads, but you might be sharing the route with snowmobilers, who are permitted on most of the unplowed roads. Pets are permitted on a leash. Access to the park is free Nov. 1-April 30. Entrance fees vary from May 1-Oct. 31. For information about Acadia in the winter, visit nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/winteractivities.htm or call 288-3338.
- Riverside Snow Park: Riverside Golf Course staff, in cooperation with the Portland Nordic Ski Club, maintains 5 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails for classic and skate skiing at the Riverside Golf Course on Riverside Street in Portland. Donations for trail use supports trail grooming. Trails are open seven days a week. For information, visit portlandnordic.org orwww.portlandmaine.gov/winterfunspots/default.asp.
– Harris Farm: This southern Maine farm offers nearly 25 miles of cross-country ski trails 9 a.m.-6 p.m., seven days a week. Located at 280 Buzzell Road in Dayton, the farm also sells CSA shares. For information, visit www.harrisfarm.com, e-mail email@example.com or call 499-2678, 710-6789 or 710-1540.
– Down East Sunrise Trail: This multi-use trail is groomed for skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling during the snow season. The 87-mile trail is open for public use from Washington Junction in Hancock to Ayers Junction in Pembroke, and has several access points along the way. For information, call 546-2730 or visit sunrisetrail.org.
– Hidden Valley Nature Center: With 25 miles of trails spread over 1,000 acres, the nature center grooms several trails for skiing during the snow season, and trail use is free. Located on Egypt Road in Jefferson, the center often hosts outdoor events and workshops. For information, visit hvnc.org or call 586-6752.
– Cathedral Pines Pathways: This network of trails, located by Cathedral Pines Campground on Route 27 by Eustis Ridge Road in Eustis, are easy for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing. The trails, groomed in the winter, pass through a grove of mature red pines that tower above, lending a cathedral-like quality to the forest. Trails are marked at intersections by colored boards. Total length of the network is about 2 miles. For information, visit www.gopinescamping.com or call 246-3491.
- Bangor Municipal Golf Course: This golf course, located at 278 Webster Ave. in Bangor, has long been an area for people to explore with their skis. The course has more than 5 miles of groomed trails, some which are lit for night skiing. For information, visit www.bangorparksandrec.com or call 992-4490.
– New Sweden Trails: Starting at 113 Westmanland Road in New Sweden, these trails are generally set for classic cross-country skiing, but there are areas in which the skate technique can be used. The network, which is free to use, totals 2.2 miles of trail that travels over hills and through the woods. The trail starts at the end of the New Sweden Consolidated School parking lot, between the school building and the garage. For information, visit www.facebook.com/NewSwedenTrails.
– Abbott Park: These trails, located behind the Leroy H. Smith Elementary School at 319 South Main Street in Winterport, connect to the Samuel L. Wagner Middle School. There are approximately 2.5 miles of trails, which have been maintained by the Penobscot Valley Ski Club since 2008 for skate and classing cross-country skiing. For information and trail conditions, visit www.pvskiclub.org/abbott-park/.
– Caribou Bog Ski Trail: This trail runs from the Bangor City Forest to Sargent Community Center in Old Town and is maintained by the Penobscot Valley Ski Club. It is primarily a point-to-point trail, but there are a few small loops. Skiers can park at a parking area off Putnam Road in Orono. For information and trail conditions, visit www.pvskiclub.org/great-caribou-bog/.
- Orono schools trails: These trails, located behind the Orono schools, are groomed for classic and skate skiing. A big effort has been made in the last two years to widen and reconstruct the trails. The trails are designed to be skied in one direction to avoid collisions on the hills. Enter the trails on the north side of the football stadium and exit on the south side. For information and trail conditions, visit www.pvskiclub.org/orono-schools/.
– Caribou High School Ski Center: Many northern Maine schools have their own cross-country ski trails, including Caribou High School, which has 3.2 miles of well-maintained trails. The difficulty of the trails is graded at easy-moderate, on www.goaroostookoutdoors.com, which has some great information on the trails, as well as a map. The high school is located at the intersection of ME Routes 161 and 228 in Caribou (308 Sweden Street). The trail is lighted from 3:30-7:30 p.m. Every Friday evening, the Northern Skiers Club hosts a free cross-country ski program called Friday FUNdamentals. For information, visit northernskiers.org.
– Woodland Community Trails: This 3.6-mile network of cross-country trails is free for people to use. The trail head is located near the back of the Woodland Community School (844 Woodland Center Road, Woodland) and can be accessed directly from the school parking lot. The trails are for classical and free-style skiing. For information, call 492-1444 or visit www.mainewsc.org.
– Split Cedar Trails: This network of trails, ranging from easy to advanced, is about 11 miles in total length in Van Buren. The trails will takes you around a pond and through the woods. The trailhead and parking is on St. Mary’s Brook Road. Several loops of different lengths are described at www.goaroostookoutdoors.com. For information, call 868-3321or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Saint John Valley Heritage Trail: This 17-mile trail runs through the forest close to Saint John River in the Saint John Valley. The trail is used year-round, and during the winter, it’s a popular spot for both snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. In Fort Kent, the trail begins on the west side of Market Street, across the road from John’s One-Stop and CITGO gas station, and immediately crosses the Fish River over a pedestrian bridge. In Saint Francis, the trail begins at an intersection with Sunset Drive, just south of Route 161, according to www.goaroostookoutdoors.com, which provides information about the trail, as well as a map.
- Walden-Parke Preserve: Located in the northeast corner of Bangor, at the end of Tamarack Trail (a road off Walden Parke Way), the Walden-Parke Preserve is home to about 3 miles of cross-country ski trails that connect to the old Veazie Railroad bed, much of which is also used for cross-country skiing. Trails are free to use. For information, visit www.bangorlandtrust.org or call 942-1010.
This is a growing list. Feel free to send cross-country trail suggestions to email@example.com. Or join the conversation about trails at www.facebook.com/1minhikegirl.