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OUTSIDE EDGE | Natural snowfall means an active weekend for Mainers

This weekend will be great for every winter activity imaginable

MAINE, USA — On this week's Outside Edge, we're excited for the fresh snowfall, which will certainly boost the level of activity across Maine this weekend, especially for those sports that rely on natural snow. Ski areas continue to drop ropes on trails, and some even closing in on 100 percent open. Cross country ski areas, snowmobile trails, and backcountry skiing will be in full swing as we continue to keep the cold air in. The latest storm evened out the snowfall geographically, as western Maine received the bulk of the snow prior to Tuesday’s system.

Meteorologist Mallory Brooke took a trip up north prior to the storm to explore the Katahdin area. Like most Mainers, interstate travel restrictions have kept many vacationing within the state of Maine. Matthew Polstein, owner and operator of the New England Outdoor Center said they’ve seen a boost in Maine vacationers. 

“We’ve seen more people from Maine than ever before. Maine’s always been 45-50 percent of our business but this summer was 70 percent of our business, and the best part was it was lots of new faces - people from northern Maine and southern Maine,” Polstein explained.

NEOC has taken the COVID guidelines from the state seriously and was already doing much of the sanitization processes between guest stays. Being socially distant is quite easy at NEOC given that there is no shared lodging space, and you can interact with other people on the property as much, or as little as you’d like. There are 20 separate cabins available for rent, some small, and some that can hold over 10 guests. 

“You can stay in that cabin, they're full housekeeping, you can do all your cooking there, and you can go right out your door, and get on your snowmobile, get on your cross-country skis or your snowshoes and enjoy a really dispersed recreation opportunities without other people all around you,” Polstein said.

There are newer and older cabins on the property. The older cabins have been recently renovated to be more efficient, and the newer cabins were recently built to LEED standards on the cove side of the lake. All new construction is to the utmost environmental specifications. NEOC also has plans to build a solar farm on the property, to eventually run the center off of it completely. Future plans also include more lodging, expanded trails, and even a brewery right in the middle of cross-country trails.

If you want to partake in a winter adventure but don’t have much gear, have no fear. All gear is available for rental – fat bikes, cross country skis, and snowmobiles. Snowmobile clothing and outerwear is also available. Polstein said that Katahdin area is certainly a snowmobile destination. 

“It has a reputation for having really well-maintained trails, and for having all the amenities that riders need, food, gas, lodging all approximate to the trail system.We’re also sort of centrally located in the forested fringe of Mainers' riding hub, the Jackman, Fort Kent band that runs up through Greenville.”

The Katahdin area did not disappoint. Our novice snowmobile adventure began on the local connector trail to ITS 85/86, eventually riding into Baxter State Park and back to NEOC. This was a great beginner rider. The cross-country traverse about sixteen miles around the property and up some elevation, even with some Katahdin views.

After all the winter adventures, there is a restaurant on-site to enjoy if you don’t want to cook. If you’re not comfortable with indoor dining, you can also order your meal to-go from the River Drivers Restaurant.

There’s certainly plenty to take advantage of on the shores the Millinocket Lake. Polstein expresses what makes this location so unique.

“Katahdin’s just not another mountain, it’s iconic. Its impact on the landscape here makes you feel good, the minute you arrive.”

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