January 7, 2021—Today is the official start of the Maine Office of Tourism’s biweekly snow reports, sent in collaboration with Ski Maine Association and Maine’s snowmobiling community. While this winter recreation season will be different than in years past due to COVID-19, a plethora of skiing and snowmobiling opportunities will provide Mainers a chance to safely explore the outdoors throughout the state.
In terms of snowfall, it has been a slow start to the season with a few sizable storms in December and early this month. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) snow depth map shows much of the state, with the exception of the immediate coast, has four to six inches of snow, with pockets across The Maine Highlands and Aroostook County with up to ten inches. The outlook for Maine’s skiing and snowmobiling season is strong and positive, noting that historic data shows some of the largest storms occur in February and well into March.
“Even if residents have no snow in their own backyards, it’s important to remember there is snow in other areas within the state and the ski resorts have been making snow now for months,” said Maine Office of Tourism Director Steve Lyons. “Maine’s incredible outdoor recreation opportunities, including skiing and snowmobiling this winter, are the ideal activities to allow you to safely get outside and enjoy the state’s abundant natural resources.”
Skiing in Maine
Conditions at most of Maine’s ski resorts and centers are favorable and will continue to improve as the snow base deepens. In this very atypical year, skiers should be aware of these guidelines and reminders prior to leaving home:
- Call ahead or look online before going to a resort or center for current guidelines or restrictions
- Use your vehicle as the lodge
- Rentals are reservation only
- There is limited capacity for kids’ programs and daycares are closed
Sugarloaf is reporting great conditions and expansion of the current terrain with snow from this past weekend’s storm paired with optimal snowmaking weather, offering skiers and snowboarders more than 230 acres of open terrain and 43 trails.
After five years, Saddleback has reopened. With a seven-inch snow base and 14 trails open, the resort is ready to welcome skiers back.
Groomers have been busy maintaining conditions at Sunday River, with 59 trails open and spanning more than 350 acres.
Currently at Black Mountain of Maine in Rumford, there are six open trails with weekend deals and free season passes for kids.
The current conditions at Nordic centers, dependent on natural snowfall, are most noteworthy in northern Maine locations like Fort Kent and Presque Isle. While visitors at these locations are welcome to use the trails by practicing social distancing and adhering to their current guidelines, it is important to note the lodges are currently closed.
Learn more about the downhill and Nordic centers at www.skimaine.com.
With more than 14,000 miles of snowmobile trails, snowmobiling is a great way to enjoy fresh air and wide-open spaces. As you plan your first snowmobiling outing, here are a few reminders:
- Operating a snowmobile under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is illegal and one of the leading causes of fatal crashes. Ride safely and within your abilities and never ride under the influence.
- Due to COVID-19 guidelines, typical rest stops may be closed or have limited capacity, so be sure to plan ahead by dressing warm and bringing food and water. If possible, call ahead to inquire about capacity and wait times and move on to the next place you can’t get in for lunch or the restroom.
- Consider taking several shorter trips that can be completed in a few hours.
Maine’s 14,000 miles of groomed trails are due to the generosity of private landowners and the efforts of volunteers from snowmobile clubs across the state. Please be courteous to others and respect private landowners by always staying on marked trails.
Many of the state’s most popular snowmobiling areas are awaiting additional storms before trail conditions are ready for snowmobiling traffic. With the hope of more snow, the upcoming snow report should include more detailed trail information.
Over the weekend, The Forks area received eight inches of snow, growing the base and looking for another storm so local groomers can prepare the trails for riders. The main lodge at Northern Outdoors and Kennebec River Pub and Brewery is slated to open on January 15.
Snowmobile trail conditions are updated regularly, so be sure to check in advance of your trip.
More Maine Winter Fun
For more laid-back winter weekend plans, lace up your skates for an afternoon ice skating at The Rink at Thompson’s Point. Be sure to check hours, restrictions and guidelines before making plans.
The snow reports, released biweekly on Wednesdays, will include snow conditions for the ski reports and snowmobile trails, highlight safe activities and remind winter enthusiasts about various safety precautions and considerations before leaving the house. The reports will be posted on VisitMaine.com where visitors can also find information on other winter activities. Residents enjoying winter in Maine are encouraged to share their photos on social media using #MaineWinter.
Editor’s Note: Click on the image above (Saddleback grand reopening) or the link below to access a Dropbox of Maine winter images.
Thanks to its lakes, coastline and mountains, Maine may well be the perfect destination for a family vacation.
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Inspired by a recent National Geographic story on 12 ways to travel sustainably in the New Year, we’d like to share our Maine-centric list of how to recreate sustainably in 2021.