BETHEL (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- Winter is the shortest season, but it seems like the longest. In Bethel, and in several other parts of Maine, improved trail systems are making the long dark days a lot more tolerable.

Bethel Village Trails are prepared for cross-country skiers, snowshoers and fat bikers.

"The community is excited by this," said Gabe Perkins of Bethel Village Trails. He said a number of groups merged two years ago to put the trail system together.

They emphasize "purpose-built trails," which are environmentally friendly, comfortable for novices and well groomed.

"Back in the old days, trails in New England went from the base to the summit in the most direct path which caused a lot of erosion," said Greg Sweetser, executive director of the Ski Maine Association.

Bethel Village Trails Is a nonprofit and a part of Mahoosic Pathways.