If you’ve had a taste of Maine during a summertime visit to the Maine Lobster Festival, you might like to come back during the winter when, some think, Maine is at its most beautiful.
Maine is a winter paradise, full of snowy landscapes appreciated by anyone who loves the outdoors in winter. For winter athletes, there are great slopes for downhills skiing and snowboarding, mountain trails for Nordic skiing or hiking, and even dog-sledding. For sportsmen, the ice fishing is great on many lakes and ponds, and Maine’s season for small game hunting lasts through most of the winter.
Travelers can schedule their vacations around a variety of winter festivals in Maine, the state has some unique shopping opportunities, or you can just rent a cabin or a room at a resort and enjoy some winter peacefulness.
Some of Maine’s best-known ski resorts are in the western part of the state. Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley is the state’s largest single ski mountain and has more than 150 trails, with the longest vertical drop at 2,820 feet. At Sunday River in Newry, there are 135 trails on eight interconnected mountain peaks. Saddleback Ski Area in Rangeley has the highest base elevation in New England with a vertical drop of 2,000 feet. There are 66 trails at Saddleback.
We’re partial to the Midcoast’s favorite ski area, the Camden Snow Bowl, where skiers can overlook Penobscot Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. No other East Coast ski area offers a view of the sea. The Snow Bowl hosts the annual US National Toboggan Championships in February.
Another high-adrenaline activity that you and your family can enjoy during winter in Maine is a snowmobiling adventure. Maine features a 3,500-mile Interconnected Trail System that allows riders to travel all over the state on their snowmobiles. Many of the state parks offer snowmobiling trails as well. In the Maine Highlands Region, Baxter State Park offers 400 miles of groomed snowmobile trails with views of mighty Mt. Katahdin, where one end of the Appalachian Trail starts.
If you prefer a walk in the snow, Pineland Farms in New Gloucester features 5,000 acres of gorgeous woodlands to explore on snowshoes, and features 30 kilometers of professionally designed and maintained trails for snowshoeing.
The East’s largest national park, Acadia, is laced with carriage roads that make for great cross-country skiing when they are covered with a few inches of snow. The roads are groomed by volunteers, and skiers can enjoy amazing views of the park forests and its rocky coast.
If indoor activities are more your speed and retail therapy is your thing, you’ll enjoy southern Maine’s Kittery Outlets, where more than 100 retailers have stores. Legendary retailer L.L. Bean’s original store is about an hour up the coast, and lots of discount stores are nearby.
Maine is full of winter retreats, resorts, small inns and bed-and-breakfasts, where visitors can relax and soak in some winter peacefulness. The Samoset Resort in Rockport (not far from the home of the Lobster Festival) features 230 oceanfront acres where guests can relax in the spa and enjoy fine dining.
If you’ve only seen Maine in the summer, you haven’t experienced everything the state offers. A winter vacation in Maine will give you a new perspective on our beautiful state.