No gear? No downside. These outside recreation facilities will outfit you too

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Cross-country skiers at Pineland Farms, which is moving its outdoor center to larger premises this winter. Photo courtesy of Pineland Farms

With southern Maine’s abundance of farms and wildlife refuges, it’s easy to navigate snow-covered trails without spending more time in the car than outdoors. Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Harris Farms in Dayton and Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook maintain hiking trails and rent all the equipment you need for a variety of outdoor activities. You can rent big tire bikes with friends in Pineland, take ski lessons at Harris Farm or take your leashed dog snowshoeing at Smiling Hill Farm on weekdays. And if you have your own gear, there are even more options.

Pineland Farms features 18 miles of professionally designed, maintained trails for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and fat tire biking.

“Skiing is our bread and butter,” said Outdoor Recreation Director Matt Sebasteanski. “For Nordic centers, we have the most to offer in southern Maine.”

The facility also offers disc golf and ice skating in the winter. With all of these opportunities, Pineland sees approximately 35,000 recreational visitors each winter.

The big change this winter is the outdoor recreation center is moving to 25 Campus Drive (a space formerly used by the YMCA) where there is more space for rental accommodation, a large lodge (where the Y had a pool) and will have a gym and four bowling alleys.

Ski prices remain the same as last winter – $20 per day or $15 after 1 p.m. ($16 per day or $12 for the afternoon for seniors, free for children under 6). Equipment rental prices for all activities can be found on the website. Ice skating is still free, but you must bring your own skates. The website also contains the latest information on the conditions for cross-country trails, toboggan slopes and skating ponds, as well as updated trail maps.

The Pineland Farms Market (15 Farm View Drive) will no longer be adjacent to the recreation center, but for something hot, a deli sandwich or a freshly baked cookie, it’s worth the 0.4 mile drive across the Pineland campus.

8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 25 Campus Drive, New Gloucester, 207-688-6599. pinelandfarms.org

If you are new to cross-country skiing, Harris Farms offers courses. Photo courtesy of Harris Farms

Harris Farms has 25 miles of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat-tire biking trails that are open December through March, snow conditions permitting. Visit the shop where you can pay the day use fee ($15 weekdays, $18 weekends, child discounts) or purchase a season pass ($140, $75 for 7-18 years) and rent skate skis can ($27). Snowshoes ($12, $8 kids), cross-country skis, boots and poles for kids ($10) and adults ($20), and pulk sleds ($10 per hour). There is a toboggan hill on site. If you want to learn to cross-country ski, Harris Farms offers lessons by appointment, with tuition, rental and beginner trail fee bundled at $50. Further prices and a piste map are available online.

Daily from 9am until dusk, conditions permitting, 280 Buzzell Road, Dayton. harrisfarm.com

Smiling Hill Farm, just minutes from Portland, grooms more than 15 miles of classic skiing trails. Last winter, day passes were $12 on weekdays and $15 on weekends, with discounts for children; Season passes were $100, $75 for kids. Smiling Hill also rents snowshoes ($10, $8 kids) and Rossignol ski packages ($15, $10). Your dog can go on the trail with you on weekdays. Call 207-775-4818 for current trail conditions. Visit the farm shop for fresh dairy products, including eggnog.

9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, conditions permitting, 781 County Road, Westbrook. smilehill.com

MORE TO EXPLORE

If you have your own gear, just want to hike, or plan to rent it off-site — Gorham Bike & Ski, which has locations from Wells to Waterville, rents snowshoes for $15 a day and cross-country ski packages for $20 a day — here are some other hiking trails nearby that you can visit for free.

Gilsland farm
20 Gilsland Farm Road, Falmouth. maineaudubon.org
Maine Audubon’s headquarters is located on a 65 acre preserve with over 2 miles of trails that meander along a pond through forest, meadows, orchards and salt marshes and is open year round. Hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing welcome. The visitor center and nature shop are open daily from 10am to 4pm.

Wells Reserve at Laudholm
342 Laudholm Farm Road, Wells. wellsreserve.org
Easy to moderate trails are available throughout winter for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. A hiking map is available online.

Wolfe’s Neck Center
184 Burnett Road, Freeport. www.wolfesneck.org
More than 5 km of trails open to the public throughout the winter for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]

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