All of Maine’s state parks are open to the public year round, but some parks see more action in the winter than others simply because they have more to offer in the way of groomed ski trails, ice skating spots and ice fishing locations.
Each winter, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands highlights some of these parks through a series of Winter Family Fun Days.
This Saturday, Feb. 17, a Winter Family Fun Day will take place at Cobscook Bay State Park in eastern Maine. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will include a program on nature exploration, horse drawn sleigh rides, tote sled rides and opportunities to go sliding, ice skating, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. And to make it easier for participants to try something new, the state’s Ski and Snowshoe Trailer will be on site with free equipment loans. A hot lunch and warming station will also be provided. The cost of the event is $1.50 for ages 12-64 years; all other are free. For more information, call 207-726-4412.
That same weekend, two programs will be offered at Wolfe’s Neck State Park, free with admission. The first program, which is about animal tracking, will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17, and the second program, on how plants and animals survive the winter, will start at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18. For more information, call 207-865-4465.
And the following weekend, on Saturday, Feb. 24, Winter Family Fun Day will be hosted at Aroostook State Park just south of Presque Isle, and on that same day, a winter birding event will be held at Wolfe’s Neck State Park.
Below is a description of these state parks, and a few others that are great for winter activities.
1. Cobscook Bay State Park
Covering 888 acres on the coast of eastern Maine, Cobscook Bay State Park borders Cobscook Bay on three sides. The park features 106 campsites, a boat launch and a network of easy walking trails, including the 1-mile Nature Trail and 0.75-mile Shore Trail. In addition, the park is especially popular for birding because more than 200 bird species hunt in Cobscook Bay. For more information, call 207-726-4412 or visit www.maine.gov/cobscookbay.
2. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park
Gifted to the state by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence M.C. Smith of Freeport in 1969, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is about 200 acres of land that includes a number of different habitats on the coast of southern Maine, including white pine and hemlock forests, a salt marsh estuary and mixed hardwood stands. Year round, visitors can explore these habitats on about 4.5 miles of well-groomed trails, and interpretive signs along the way help people learn more about their surroundings. For information, call 207-865-4465 or visit www.maine.gov/wolfesneckwoods.
3. Aroostook State Park
Featuring Quaggy Jo Mountain and encompassing Echo Lake, Aroostook State Park is Maine’s first state park, established in 1939. The park began as a 100-acre parcel donated by the residents of Presque Isle, then expanded over the years through land donations and purchases to nearly 800 acres. In addition to many trails for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing, the park features a campground, picnic area, playground, showers and trailered boat launch. For information, call 207-768-8341 or visit www.maine.gov/aroostook.
4. Camden Hills State Park
Home to about 30 miles of hiking trails and more than 100 camping sites, Camden Hills State Park is a popular hiking, snowshoeing and skiing location. One of the park’s most visited locations is the scenic summit of Mt. Battie, which is topped with a historic stone tower that visitors are welcome to explore. Another popular hiking spot in the park is Mount Megunticook, which is the highest of the Camden Hills, rising 1,385 feet above sea level and featuring multiple outlooks. Then there’s a whole network of flatter trails that are used heavily in the winter by cross-country skiers and fat-tire bikers. For more information, call 207-236-3109 or 207-236-0849 after Labor Day or visit www.maine.gov/camdenhills.
5. Range Pond State Park
Featuring wide sandy beaches on the scenic Lower Range Pond in the town of Poland, Range Pond State Park has long been a popular place for the public to enjoy watersports, picnicking, sunbathing and fishing. And in recent years, the park has expanded its network of walking and biking trails and started opening its gates year round to offer a wider range out outdoor activities during all seasons. At the north end of the park, starting at the north end of the main beach, are more easy walking trails, including a 2-mile loop that is groomed for cross-country skiing during the winter, and a 1.5-mile loop that serves as a multi-use trail during the winter. For more information, call 207-998-4104 or visit www.maine.gov/rangepond.
6. Mount Blue State Park
A place great for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling, Mount Blue State Park is a true winter destination. The park features a number of hiking trails that vary in difficulty, including the Mt. Blue Trail, which is 3.2 miles roundtrip and is a steep climb to scenic vistas on the impressive mountain. In contrast, the park also features the easy, 0.5-mile Center Hill Nature Trail, which can be walked with an interpretive brochure for more of an educational experience. In the winter, snowmobilers enjoy multi-use trails that form two loops and start at park headquarters, and about 15 miles of trails are groomed for cross-country skiing. For more information, call 585-2347 during the summer or 207-585-2261 during all other seasons, or visit www.maine.gov/mountblue.