MAINE, USA — Thanks to some help from Mother Nature last weekend and early this week, some of our trail centers were able to reopen. With sports like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling relying on natural snow, many came out to enjoy the trails as soon as the snow fell.
“On Sunday, we were busy all day. The parking lot was full, we had several skiers, lots of snowshoers, it was fantastic,” Jessica Carter, the manager at Carter’s Cross County Ski Center in Bethel, said. They have a trail system, a retail shop, and plenty of rentals available in the heart of Bethel.
The Christmas rain forced them to halt cross country and snowshoeing, however, they have fat bikes that can be used on trails without snow. People still enjoyed the trails, even if they were just hiking or walking to get some fresh air.
Like we’ve heard often this year, the outdoors are in high demand. They’ve seen the boom in outdoor interest this season, and Carter says it started early.
“We've seen a lot of people starting in October. We had a lot of people coming to our tent sale and a lot of people coming to buy equipment. A lot of people who have said to me things like, 'I'm really a downhill skier and I don't know what's going to happen this year, and if I'll be able to get on the trails or I used to be a cross country skier 20 years ago and I want to get back into it because I want to get outside.'"
Carter’s can outfit the whole family with snowshoes, cross country skis, backcountry skis and fat bikes. For younger outdoor enthusiasts, you can also rent a pulk sled.
“If you have a small child or two small children you can tow them behind you on skis or snowshoes which is a great family activity,” Carter said.
Rentals and trail passes are available daily, and you can even get a multi-sport rental, to try out a few different options in one day. Season passes are available for purchase and provide discounts at other trail centers across the state, including Pineland Farms and Rangeley Lakes.
If you’re new to the sport, group lessons are available on Saturdays, and private lessons can be reserved any day online. While many have struggled to keep inventory in stock, Carter says there’s still plenty at their retail location in Bethel.
The one sport that is still on standby is snowmobiling. About a foot of snow is necessary to completely cover the trail and provide a consistent base for riders. We’ll need one more storm for more options and opportunities to open for snowmobilers.
Downhill ski areas were able to expand terrain and mix in some packed powder to their base. The natural snowfall brought big crowds and certainly showed the pent up demand in skiers during the tail end of the holiday week.