Winter in the Kennebec Valley
Activities: Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, dining, winter lodging, outdoor adventure
Region: The Kennebec Valley
The Kennebec Valley, covering more than 5,000 square miles and home to Maine’s magical 170-mile Kennebec River, is a destination for year-round adventure. Winter, however, is a special time for the region: When the expanses of land are blanketed in white, and the lakes, ponds and waterfalls freeze into a dazzling display, the possibilities for outdoor recreation are endless. Whether you crave the thrill of a snowmobile ride or the leisure of snowshoeing, The Kennebec Valley offers iconic Maine winter activities, with plenty of places to warm up.
If you’re ready to explore the region at a faster pace, consider snowmobiling. Glide through hundreds of miles of well-maintained trails suitable for all skill levels, spot the wonder of waterfalls frozen in a sparkling cascade, and be on the lookout for moose or deer from the sled. You can stop for lunch on the trail or in the many rider-friendly towns that cater to snowmobilers with a variety of club activities and events (find a club here). Joining in on a club ride can make your visit extra memorable and fun. Seek out towns along Route 201 above Skowhegan, like Bingham, The Forks and Jackman. If you’re new to the activity, it’s a good idea to hire a Registered Maine Guide, who are well-equipped and knowledgeable.
Fishing enthusiasts will be happy to know they don’t have to hang up their fishing poles for the winter. In the Kennebec Valley, the many frozen lakes and ponds, like Emden Pond, Wyman Lake and Attean Lake, make for perfect ice fishing spots. Drill into the frozen sheet and catch your freshest meal yet. You may come for the activity, but you’ll want to stay for the kinship that is the ice fishing community, popping up in their cozy winter shacks. For more information on fishing requirements, laws and guidance, visit the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe
There is perhaps nothing more satisfying on a bright winter day (or under a luminous full moon!) than cross-country skiing or snowshoeing through the glittering woods. You’ll have the chance to slow down and appreciate the miracle of the frozen wonderland and spot winter wildlife. The Kennebec Valley has many trails that lend themselves well to these activities. You may even find yourself shedding layers — cross-country skiing and snowshoeing can work up a healthy sweat!
Eat and Drink
For an invigorating day on the snow or ice, there’s nothing better than a warm meal at one of these local stops:
Alice’s Restaurant (Skowhegan)
An excellent stop for breakfast, here you can savor generous portions of omelets, pancakes and fresh coffee.
The Bankery (Skowhegan)
Great for baked goods and lunches to go, you’ll find everything from savory to sweet.
Boatman’s Bar and Grill (The Forks)
Delicious pub food and 10 draft lines will keep everyone in the family satisfied.
Hawk’s Nest (The Forks)
Savor tavern fare in a cozy environment while overlooking the icy Dead River.
Where To Stay
A requirement for a long day’s adventure is a base camp to call home in the evening. Retire to one of these lodging options, which are all experts in balancing rest and play:
Northern Outdoors Adventure Resort (The Forks)
This adventure resort has its own brewery, lodge, restaurant, private log cabins, campsite and backyard access to trails. With everything in one place, you won’t want to leave!
North Country Rivers Winter Resort (Bingham)
With an average annual snowfall of over 10 feet, winter-outdoor enthusiasts can’t ask for more. Located right off Maine’s Interconnecting Trail System for easy groomed trail access.
Lake Parlin Lodge & Cabins (Parlin Pond)
A perfect base for snowmobilers, the cabins are well appointed with all the comforts you’re looking for in a cozy winter getaway, from the pillow-top mattresses to the radiant heated floors in the bathrooms.
Sky Lodge & Cabins (Jackman)
With over 150 acres of land at their disposal, guests can truly frolic in the snow at this property equipped with cozy lodging options and authentic hospitality. Direct trail access allows you to get outside from the start for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and more.