Winter in Maine

Original open uri20160815 3469 1rhtf2m?1471295201?ixlib=rails 0.3
Winter in Maine
There’s no excuse for coming down with wintertime cabin fever in Maine. Endless outdoor activities are available across the state for those willing to brave the cold and go looking for adventure.
By Sam Barns, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Jose Azel/age fotostock
  • 1 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1rhtf2m?1471295201?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Some Towns Were Made for Winter
    Some towns in Maine seem like they were made for winter. Kingfield is one of the Northeast's winter sports capitals; Rangeley is where snowmobilers from across New England often meet up to ride; Bridgton offers a number of cozy B&Bs for travelers to warm up in after a day of snow shoeing or ice fishing; and Freeport's outlets are abuzz in December with holiday shoppers. While the flowers may no longer be in bloom, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens sparkle during the winter Gardens Aglow celebration. Skating, ice fishing, dogsledding, skiing, snowmobiling, and sleigh rides are a great way to spend a winter day, and these small Maine towns know how to deliver the experience.
    Photo by Jose Azel/age fotostock
  • 2 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1fxhsl7?1471295206?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Downhill Skiing
    Sugarloaf Mountain and Sunday River ski resort comprise some of the biggest and best-known Maine mountains, offering miles of terrain that skiers can spend days exploring. Smaller mountains like Shawnee Peak and Mount Abrams are great for beginners and are only 45 minutes from Portland. February and March usually have the most snow, so visitors can do some spring skiing in T-shirt weather. Even those who aren't serious skiers will appreciate getting into the alpine zone, enjoying gorgeous views from the top of the chairlift, and returning to the lodge for hot chocolate.
    Photo courtesy of Ethan Austin/Sugarloaf
  • 3 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 pl2yka?1471295212?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Drop an Icy Line
    Driving around Maine's lakes in the winter time, visitors will notice a number of tiny shacks sitting on the frozen surface of the water. Inside these shacks are people ice fishing. The day begins by cutting holes in the ice and dropping lines into the holes. A flagging mechanism is attached so that when a fish bites the line a bright orange flag shoots up. Dinner is caught! Although they are simply built, the shacks manage to stay surprisingly warm inside, which makes ice fishing a great way to enjoy a unique Maine experience. Guides are available for first-timers.
    Photo by Mike Kemp/age fotostock
  • 4 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1cg9yek?1471295217?ixlib=rails 0.3
    High-Speed Winter Fun
    Maine boasts an extensive network of snowmobile trails: They stretch miles into the wilderness and, in some places, connect towns much more efficiently than do the roads. Snowmobilers can spend the day so deep in the woods that they don't see another person, or they can stick close to town and take advantage of the diners that cater to snowmobilers fresh off the trails. Rangeley and Jackman are known as hubs for the sport, and people of all skill levels can find the information and equipment they need to have a great day out on the snow. Many of the trails in Maine are well maintained and mapped. Be prepared to bundle up against the cold, and enjoy the forest flying by at 45 miles per hour.
    Photo by Sam Barns
  • 5 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 o628z4?1471295221?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Apr├Ęs-Ski
    For some people, the best part of a cold day outside is a warm evening inside; anywhere you can find great outdoor activities you are sure to find great après-ski as well. Big meals, good drinks, and cozy fireplaces are the magic ingredients needed to warm up after a day in the snow. If you've been snowmobiling near Rangeley, look for The Red Onion and The Shed BBQ on Main Street once you're done. Visitors staying at the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotelcan chow down on The Bag and Kettle’s famous pepperoni pizza, then warm up with drinks and dancing at Widowmaker or The Rack. In Portland, the bars and restaurants in the Old Port are the places to thaw out with good food and drinks.
    Photo courtesy of Skye Chalmers/Sugarloaf
  • 6 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 h15k6k?1471295226?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Cross-Country Skiing
    The Maine woods are stunning after a heavy snowfall. Hiking through this snow is nearly impossible, but cross-country skiing is one way to experience the quiet beauty of the winter woods. The sport continues to grow in popularity, which means the options available to potential skiers do as well. Sugarloaf’s Outdoor Center offers mapped and groomed trails for skiers at all levels. More adventurous skiers will appreciate the untouched terrain around the Bigelow Mountain range: Maps for this area can be found via the Appalachian Trail Club. In southern Maine, try Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park.
    Photo by Sam Barns
  • 7 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1qhtgz9?1471295232?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Climb Mount Katahdin in Winter
    At 5,269 feet, Mount Katahdin is the tallest peak in Maine. It is located within Baxter State Park, which closes its gates to cars each winter. However, access is still permitted to those willing to put in the extra effort and walk. Climbing Mount Katahdin in the winter is a truly challenging experience—and one that adventure seekers will love. With the gates closed it takes about a day to hike to the base of the mountain, followed by a 3:30 a.m. departure from base camp to reach the top. You will need a guide for this: The Appalachian Mountain Club is a great place to find experienced Maine guides.
    Photo by Jose Azel/age fotostock
  • 8 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 26ghmz?1471295236?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Winter Hiking
    All the great hikes Maine is famous for in the summer are still available in the winter. Sure, the going is slower and the weather is colder, but the beauty of the woods in winter tends to make up for the slower, chillier pace. Vacationers staying in southern Maine will appreciate the ease of a hike up Bradbury Mountain in Freeport or Morse Mountain in Phippsburg. The hikes are quick and the views are gorgeous. More serious hikers may find it worth their time to explore Burnt Mountain in Kingfield, as well as parts of the Appalachian Trail that run from western Maine all the way up to Mount Katahdin.
    Photo by age fotostock
  • 9 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 535o4z?1471295240?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Skating and Sledding
    Skating and sledding are some of the cheapest and easiest ways to enjoy the winter weather. In Portland, check out the pond at Deering Oaks for a day of skating: It was featured in the movie The Preacher’s Wife, starring Whitney Houston. Orland H. Blake Skating Pond in Yarmouth and The Family Ice Center in Falmouth are also well-known outdoor skating spots. For sledding, check out Payson Park in Portland or The Portland Country Club and Maine Audubon Society in Falmouth. If you don't have a sled you can always try using a food tray, inner tube, or aluminum sheet. There are few better ways to feel like a kid again.
    Photo by Joe Devenney/age fotostock