Cross Country Skiing in Maine
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. In the Maine Highlands, head to the Penobscot River Trails for 25 km of groomed trails, complete with warming huts and a cozy visitor center. Rentals are available, too.
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 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 Inland Woods & Trails and in Oxford, the Oxbow Beer Garden is adjacent to an extensive Nordic skiing trail system, formerly called Carter's XC Ski, that is free to use. Bethel Village Trails offers groomed runs and ski and snowshoe rentals. Titcomb Mountain in Farmington, and Black Mountain in Rumford 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 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.
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.
For information on additional ski areas and on ski conditions, check out Ski Maine.
Look Out for ME Cross-country Skiing Tips
- Stay on established trails & roads
- Pack any garbage & waste out with you when you leave
- Don’t cut, mark or damage trees
- Always recreate within your personal limits
- Be weather wise & dress appropriately
- Bring a basic first aid kit & travel with a friend
- Bring a waterproof map & compass
For more info on how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, visit our Look Out for ME page.