The pandemic has been unable to shut down Maine’s great outdoors.
So as long as there is snow on the ground and temperatures cold enough to freeze water, you’ll be able to find something to do in the next couple of months. Not every winter outdoor recreation business is open, and some might have restrictions on crowd sizes or other safety guidelines. But there are certainly opportunities for you to ice skate, snowshoe, cross-country ski, ride a fat-tire bike, slide down a hill on an inner tube, or just take a walk in the wintry woods or along the frosty coastline.
Below are some ideas of places to go to seek winter fun outdoors in Maine. Of course, they are weather dependent, so call ahead or check websites to see when they are open and what COVID-19 restrictions might be in place. And if you’re looking for some specific outdoor events in the coming weeks, happening on specific dates, you can also check out this Press Herald roundup.
There’s nothing like flying down a steep, snowy hill on a sled or tube. Seacoast Adventure in Windham has opened its tubing hill, with several safety conditions. First, there’s a limit on how many people can tube at a time and people must make reservations, which is $24 for two-hour blocks of time, tube included. People are asked to wear masks when in line for the lift to the top of the hill. Unlike some sledding hills, the tubing hill at Seacoast Adventure is not dependent on snow because they make their own. The park is open Thursday through Sunday and will be open during February school vacation week, Feb. 15-19. For more information and to order tickets, go to seacoastadventure.com.
Lost Valley ski and snowboard area in Auburn has plans to open its Maine Family Snow Tube Park this winter, according to its website, so look for updates on that. Besides downhill skiing, Lost Valley also offers trails for snowshoeing and fat-tire bike riding. For more information on all that Lost Valley offers and to keep tabs on when tubing might open, go to lostvalleyski.com.
FAT AND HAPPY
Maine state parks, ski resorts and other places have all kinds of trails for fat-tire bikes. If you’ve never tried a bike with fat tires and don’t own one, you might think of renting one for the day and then heading to a park or trail. Gorham Bike & Ski, with five Maine locations from Kennebunk to Waterville, rents fat-tire bikes for $50 a day.
Several state parks are popular riding spots, including Camden Hills State Park in Camden, Range Pond State Park in Poland and Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal. A few years ago, Bradbury Mountain State Park was rated as having the most popular mountain biking trails in Maine by the national biking website Singletracks. Lilly Pond Community Forest in Bath is another favorite spot for mountain bikes and fat-tire bikers. It’s run by the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust. For info, go to kennebecestuary.org.
There are lots of places around Maine where you can do more than one kind of winter activity. It’s easy to find a park or public land that has the activities you want by searching on the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands website. You can search by activity, including cross-country skiing, off-road biking, hiking, snowshoeing and many others. If you search for places that have all of the above, you get more than a dozen hits.
Pineland Farms in New Gloucester is another multi-activity spot, hosting everything from skating to disc golf in winter. Pineland keeps its two disc golf courses open year-round, even in snow. You can play a round for $5 and rent a disc for $1. One course is more than 7,100-feet long, while the other is more than 4,100-feet long. Pineland is also open for two-hour farm visits during February school vacation week. These include a map and self-guided tour that allows people to visit all the barnyard animals, including chickens, goats, sheep, pigs and fowl. The price is $5 a person and free for kids 2 and under.
There is also a free ice skating rink on the property, near the tennis courts on Morse Road, and Pineland asks that skaters social distance and follow CDC safety guidelines. Weather permitting, Pineland offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat-tire biking on its trails. Full-day passes for adults are $10 for bikes, $12 for snowshoes and $20 for skiing, but there are different prices for shorter time periods. For more information on all Pineland offers in winter, including prices, go to pinelandfarms.org.
One place to skate where you don’t have to worry much about weather is the Rink at Thompson’s Point on the Fore River in Portland. The 10,000-square-foot rink is covered by an old railroad shed roof but exposed on both sides and will be hosting a maximum of 50 skaters. For $10, according to the rink website, you can skate all you want on the perfectly groomed ice surface. You can also rent skates for $3. There are restrooms, concessions and a bar on site. Masks are required. For more information and hours of operation from day to day, go to therinkatthompsonspoint.com.
There are also free outdoor rinks maintained by recreation departments and community groups all over Maine. For these, you should call or go online to make sure the water’s frozen or the rink walls were set up. There’s a rink at South Portland’s sprawling Wainwright Recreation Complex, which also has cross-country ski trails. Scarborough maintains a pretty big rink behind the high school and conditions are updated on the Scarborough Community Services Facebook page. Both have plenty of parking. A nonprofit group and volunteers run the West Brook Skating Rink in Biddeford and provide frequent updates on events and conditions on the rink’s Facebook page.
THE OLE’ SOFT SHOE
Snowshoes hold the power of freedom. They allow people to explore all over snow-covered Maine, even where trails haven’t been cleared. L.L. Bean offers snowshoe courses for all skill levels at locations in Freeport, with equipment provided. The lessons are about $30 and last about two hours. L.L. Bean also offers snowshoe tours, like its Starlight Snowshoe Tour or Full-Moon Tour, which lead people on a trek under a night sky. The cost is about $50. For more information, including dates and times, go to LLBean.com/llb/ods and click “snowshoeing.”