Editor’s note: This story was originally published in January 2018.
It’s been beyond cold recently, and with that kind of cold, it’s tough to think about having fun outdoors. I get it. I’m right there with you. Cold snaps like this can be downright dangerous. But the weather forecast for this week predicts the state “warming up” to at least the 20s, so in my opinion, it’s time to bust out the snowshoes and finally enjoy the snow.
There are plenty of places to go snowshoeing in Maine. Many hiking trails are accessible and perfect for the activity, but it’s important that when planning a snowshoe trip, you keep a few things in mind. First of all, not all hiking trails are accessible in the winter because some Maine roads and parking areas are not plowed. Second, if a trail isn’t marked well on trees, above the reach of snow, then it can be difficult to follow in the winter. And third, people generally snowshoe much slower than they hike, so keep that in mind when selecting the trail. For me, a 3-mile snowshoe on a small mountain is a nice workout.
The following are six locations that are great for short, fairly easy snowshoe treks in Maine. These locations are accessible during the winter, include some moderately challenging hills and the trails are well-marked and maintained.
Located on the western side of Mount Desert Island, on the Indian Point peninsula, Indian Point Blagden Preserve features old forests and more than 1,000 feet of rocky shore on Western Bay. The forests, dominated by red spruce, northern white cedar and balsam fir, were untouched by the The Great Fires of 1947, a series of forest fires that burned nearly 17,000 acres on MDI.
The preserve is home to three trails: the 1.3-mile Big Woods Trail, which leaves from the parking area, and the shorter Shore and Fern, both located at the end of the Big Woods Trail. All three trails travel over fairly even terrain, though the Big Woods Trail does descend gradually as it nears the shoreline. Dogs are not permitted.
A bald-topped hill in Cherryfield known locally as Young Tunk Mountain has long been a place for area residents to hike and pick wild blueberries. Local children who have climbed the hill call its granite summit the “Top of the World” because it provides wide open views of their towns below. The trail leading to its summit is just 0.67 mile long and was created by Savage Bloomer as his Eagle Scout project on his family’s property. This trail is open to the public and makes for a great snowshoe trek. Out and back, the hike is about 1.4 miles and includes some steady climbing that will get your heart pumping. Dogs are permitted if kept under control at all times.
Owned by the Town of Veazie, the 25-acre McPhetres Farm Forest contains a network of well-marked walking trails that are open to the public year round. The quiet property is great for dog walking, trail running and snowshoeing. It’s also a good place for wildlife watching and birding. Altogether, the trails add up to a little less than 1.5 miles, and they’re marked with colorful trail markers posted on tree trunks, making it difficult to lose your way. The forest is fairly hilly, so expect a few short uphill climbs. Educational signs are located throughout the trail network so people can learn about forest management and natural features, such as cavity trees and ant mounds. Also posted throughout the forest are trail maps that show you where you are in the trail network. Dogs are permitted.
Silver Lake Trails is a 67-acre park that features 2 miles of community trails that lead to the shores of Silver Lake. The park’s six intersecting trails, which combined equal about 2 miles in length, are Peninsula Trail (0.45 mile), Shore Trail (0.82 mile), Campsite Trail (0.62 mile), Cross Trail (0.03 mile), Landing Trail (0.05 mile) and Field Trail (0.38 Trail). A colorful map of the trail network is on display at the parking area. The trails are wide and well-marked with various colors of paint, and while some sections are extremely rocky and covered with tangles of exposed roots, this won’t be a problem when snow is covering the ground. Dogs are permitted.
The 520-acre Lake George Regional Park is home to a vast network of trails and features 10,000 feet of shorefront. A busy spot in the summer, the park is a big quiet in the winter, though it’s the ideal spot for snowshoeing, skiing and when the ice is safe, ice fishing and ice skating. The many trails in the park make up about 10 miles over fairly even terrain. Most recommended loop hikes are less than 2 miles. And while pets are prohibited May through September, they’re welcome in the park during the winter. Just be sure to clean up after them.
In 2010, Kent Hewitt donated a 100-acre wooded peninsula on Pleasant Lake to the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust, as well as a 50-acre wetland adjacent to the property. The land had long been enjoyed by boaters, fishermen, hunters and hikers, and he wanted to ensure public access well into the future. Now called Pleasant Lake Preserve, the property features two trails: a 1.4-mile trail that ends at Pleasant Lake, and a 0.4-mile side trail marked in yellow. Expect hills and uneven terrain as you follow the wide, well-marked trails. The preserve is open to hunting, fishing and non-motorized recreation, such as hiking, wildlife watching and skiing. Dogs are permitted.