PATTEN, Maine — Spring has arrived, but Maine has no shortage of snow in parts of the state. Up north at the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, ski trails are still in pristine condition.

This week, the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters welcomed Mainers to ski for free at its sixth annual Head North Ski Days. Friends of Katahdin have hosted multiple school groups throughout the week, teaching students about the history of the area, while getting them out onto the trails to cross country ski and snowshoe. 

"They can experience something that’s a little different but learn at the same time. They really start to learn that there’s alternatives ways of learning," said Kala Rush, the education coordinator for Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters.

"It gets your blood pumping. You get to know a little more about your classmates," said Medway Middle School student Angel Ramsey. 

Students were provided with free ski and snowshoe equipment rentals by the Outdoor Sports Institute and the Katahdin Gear Library.

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One of the topics discussed with the students included the Penobscot Tribe, who lived along the East Branch of the Penobscot River where the trail runs. The trails are staffed by Friends of Katahdin, as well as Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. employees, who guided students while skiing and taught them about the history and environment in the area.

"It’s so special, and everywhere you look you can find signs of that and the people that came before us. So, it’s a total road map of history," said Susan Adams, the Elliotsville Plantation recreation coordinator. 

Many students returned to the base site exhausted but rewarded after cross country skiing for the first time.

"The sense of accomplishment is amazing to see in a student. It’s not always easy, sometimes it gets a little sticky, but they push through, and they’re thrilled," said Rush. 

The Head North Ski Days ran from Saturday, March 16 to the next Saturday, March 23. The North Gate of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is staffed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with workers there to rent out equipment. The event is open to the public.

To learn more about the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, click here.