cross country skiing and snowshoeing in Western and central maine

The town of Bethel, Maine offers 120 kilometers of groomed xc ski trails and is home to xc ski areas Bethel Inn, Carter's XC Ski Center and Sunday River Inn. In 1999, the town, which is known as the Cross Country skiing capital of Maine, set the record with the Guinness Book for the World's Tallest Snowman, a towering 113 feet, 7 inches. Indoor activities abound also with shopping and antiquing to taking in a matinee movie or playing laser tag. For more info contact the Bethel Chamber of Commerce at (800) 442-5826 or on the Web at www.bethelmaine.com

The Quarry Road Recreation Area is a great community resource in central Maine for XC skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding in Waterville, Maine along the Messalonskee Stream. Nearby to Augusta and only a half mile from downtown Waterville and Colby College, the Quarry Road Rec Area is operated by the Waterville Parks & Recreation Dept. as a year-round recreational facility with 15 km of groomed trails for classic and skate skiing designed by John Morton and 5 km of trails for snowshoers and dog walkers. The Quarry Road area has snowmaking covering more than 3 km of trails.

Rangeley Lakes Outdoor Center (207-864-4309, www.xcskirangeley.com) is located at the base of alpine ski area Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley with 55 km of groomed trails for classic and skate xc skiing and snowshoeing in the scenic western mountains and lakes region of Maine. There are dedicated snowshoe trails. The yurt lodge has a snack bar and xc ski and snowshoe equipment rentals. For a full page of info click Rangeley Lake Outdoor Center. There is a full range of services in the town of Rangeley.

The Sugarloaf USA Outdoor Center (207-237-6830, www.sugarloaf.com/nordic) is the largest and most complete Nordic center in Maine, with 105 km of xc ski trails groomed with double tracks and lanes for skating. Most of the trails are well suited for beginners and intermediates. The center is off Rte. 27, south of the resort access road. Three trails reach it from the resort’s lodging facilities and the village area. The center also has a lighted Olympic-sized outdoor skating rink and a 6,000-square-foot lodge with a giant fireplace, a south-facing deck, and food and drink at the Klister Kitchen, a locals’ favorite. Group and private lessons are available, as are equipment rentals. Multiday ticket holders may exchange a day of downhill for a day of cross-country skiing including trail fee, lesson and equipment. Exchange tickets at the guest services desk in the base lodge. CCSAA member

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Maine Huts & Trails is a nonprofit organization in western Maine offering a scenic groomed trail system and remote huts open to the public. . Maine Huts currently has 48 km (30 miles) of trails for classic and skate skiing and 3 remote huts along the trails. Each hut has a convenient trailhead and parking. You can go for a day, ski in for lunch, or plan a multiday hut-to-hut adventure. The huts have showers, soft mattresses, home cooked meals, and beer or wine.

Black Mountain of Maine Touring Center (207-364-8977) is in Rumford, ME offering 35 km of groomed xc ski trails associated with an alpine ski area. There are xc ski equipment rentals and lessons. Tubing and a snack bar also available. CCSAA member

Five Fields Farm (207-647-2425, wwwfivefieldsfarmx-cski.com) in South Bridgton, ME has 27 km of groomed trails and unlimited ungroomed backcountry trails on Bald Pate Mountain. There are xc ski and snowshoe equipment rentals available. CCSAA member

The AMC Maine Wilderness Lodges offer year round destinations in the heart of western Maine's 100-Mile Wilderness at the Gorman Chairback Lodge & Cabins (207-717-0270) and the Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins (207-280-0708). Stay at either lodge or take advantage of a lodge-to-lodge adventure.