A Better Way to Winter
Maine has it all: friendly (and uncrowded) ski resorts, trails for everyone, cozy lodging, unique events, and more
What makes this natural paradise so perfect to visit in winter? There’s the sprawling, wild landscapes of course, from forested, snow-blanketed forests to raw coastal terrain. But that’s just the start. Next comes all the ways to enjoy the outdoors—downhill skiing, Nordic skiing, backcountry skiing, dog sledding, hiking, snowshoeing, fat biking, hut-to-hut trips, and more. Now add the state’s rich culture and welcoming small towns, and you’ve got the perfect destination for all kinds of winter adventure. Start with these three trips, then go here to find even more.
Ski Lonesome Pines
Head north for a ski experience that mixes a laidback community vibe with high-performance athletics. Lonesome Pines hosts family-friendly youth ski programs alongside terrain even experienced skiers will enjoy, all accessed by an old-school T-bar. And everyone will love the view: from the top of Lonesome Pines, see the St. John River, Fort Kent, and the sweeping farm country of Quebec. On the backside of the hill, find Fort Kent Outdoor Center, a nationally renowned biathlon center and Nordic ski center that once hosted the most-viewed live event in Maine history—a Biathlon World Cup. Events are scheduled regularly each winter, and the Nordic trails here are open well into the spring, when snow has melted elsewhere. Learn more.
Hike Mount Blue State Park
Mount Blue State Park encompasses a huge area, some 8,000 acres, and with that comes a host of winter activities. One of the most exciting? Summiting the park’s namesake mountain. If you’re an intermediate hiker, the 3.2-mile round-trip is a great introduction to summiting peaks in winter. The trail is quite steep, though a good snowpack helps even out rough footing. The rocky summit is partially protected by scrubby evergreens and a fire tower affords fantastic views of all of western Maine. Winter winds are strong, so layer up, and be sure to hit up the warming hut back at headquarters. Learn more.
Watch the US Toboggan Championships
The annual United States Toboggan championships is held on the second weekend of February each year, and it’s definitely an only-in-Maine event. The festival with boisterous costumed crowds (think lumberjacks, moose onesies, and lots of neon) is not exactly a professional sports exhibition, but rather a chance to celebrate winter. The centerpiece of the event is the iced toboggan chute, which shoots contestants out onto a quarter-mile long runoff on the frozen Hosmer Pond. The competition is tight—the toboggans can hit 40-plus miles per hour and winners are usually separated by hundredths of seconds. The entire event is a classic Maine experience. Learn more.