Cross-Country Ski Rentals & Trails
Mainers have been cross-country skiing since the 1870s and no wonder. The terrain is so vast and varied and the snow is generally so good that it’s hard to resist breaking out the skis. But in a state so big, where should you start?
Consider the heartland of Maine skiing - Aroostook County. It’s in this northernmost section of the state that Swedish immigrants introduced skiing to Maine. The Fort Kent Outdoor Center in Fort Kent and the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle offer comfortable lodges, groomed trails and ski rentals.
Across Maine – and especially In Maine’s western mountains - Nordic ski centers snuggle close to Alpine resorts. Sugarloaf Ski Resort, in Carrabassett Valley, has the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center, with groomed trails and ski and fat-bike rentals. The town of Bethel, a favorite ski town, has the downhill-ski areas of Sunday River and Mt. Abram nearby along with cross-country skiing at the Bethel Village Trails and Carter’s XC Ski Center. Bethel Village Trails offers groomed runs and ski and fat-bike rentals; Carter’s has a full ski shop, rentals and groomed trails. Titcomb Mountain in Farmington, Black Mountain in Rumford and Bigrock Mountain in Mars Hill are lively, local downhill-skiing locations that have companion cross-country trails.
Maine farms offer great places to ski, with trails that loop across pastures, into woods through fields. Among those farm-to-ski spots are Pineland Farms in New Gloucester. It offers groomed trails, ski rentals, skiing lessons and a popular farm market and deli. Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook is tucked into Greater Portland. It has groomed trails, ski rentals and even on-site cheese making. Harris Farm, a large dairy and vegetable farm in the southern Maine town of Dayton, offers loads of winter fun. They have groomed trails, ski and fat-bike rentals, and a sledding hill. The farm even allows you to bring your dog skiing on certain days (weather dependent - call ahead). Five Fields Farm in South Bridgton has groomed trails that run from its lawn through its wide apple orchards. The farm offers equipment rentals as well.
Want to extend your time and stay where you ski? In Millinocket, the New England Outdoor Center offers meals, lodging, on-site cross-country trails, gear rentals and lessons. If you crave a break from skiing, you can take out a snowmobile or try ice fishing.
If you’d like to ski to your lodge, the Appalachian Mountain Club and Maine Huts & Trails have you covered. In north-central Maine, AMC has three wildland camps: Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins, Gorman Chairback Lodge & Cabins and Medawisla Lodge & Cabins. The lodges offer different sleeping options (bunkhouses, cabins) and include lodge-cooked meals. In winter, you’ll have to ski or dogsled to Little Lyford and Gorman Chairback. You can drive to Medawisla in winter and enjoy skiing around that lodge and to the others.
Maine Huts & Trails has four ‘off-the-grid eco lodges’ on 80 miles of trails in the mountains of Western Maine. The trails are next door to the ones at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center. You’re welcome to use these self-service huts to warm up and make meals with food you’ve packed in (they have kitchens). If you pre-book, you can stay the night in shared or private bunkrooms using gear you’ve brought.
For information on additional ski areas and on ski conditions, check out Ski Maine.