NEWRY — Tuesday’s rain that began at noon at The Outdoor Center, a Nordic ski and snowshoe nonprofit, didn’t hinder public recreation. 

But across Western Maine, several Nordic centers closed due to inclement weather and recent ice storms.

“We’re doing pretty good right now,” said Maggie Loré, an employee at The Outdoor Center. “Two women went out skate skiing this morning and said it was the best skiing they’ve ever seen here.”

Loré said they have nice granular snow that’s “pretty firm.”

“The trails closest to the inn, which are in the woods, are groomed and the snow is really packed well,” she said, referring to the former Sunday River Inn, which now houses the Outdoor Center.

The Newry center opened for the season Dec. 16 and has only closed one day, Jan. 11, due tp freezing rain, Loré said.

“You definitely need micro-spikes to walk around the parking lot,” she said. “But we had two women from Germany who went snowshoeing across the road today, and they had a blast.”

Few people had been in since the rain began, but athletes from Telstar High School in Bethel were to practice on the trails Tuesday afternoon, Loré said.

The Outdoor Center and The Bethel Inn Nordic Center are managed by Mike Cooper of Bethel. They are both open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Cooper was grooming the Bethel center‘s trails Tuesday. He said they were holding up, but the past three ice storms were taking a toll.

“It’s the longevity of it,” Cooper said. “Conditions are fine, but there’s only so much you can do after a while. So far, so good, but the problem I see is how that will affect us in the long run.

“Up until recently, it’s been great,” he said. “The snow’s been good and we’ve had nice numbers of people coming in. Christmas was great.”

Cooper said warmer temperatures at night affect snow on trails.

“It’s not the rain so much as it is the nights that don’t cool down,” he said. “That’s when we lose volume.”

At Carter’s Cross-Country Ski Centers in Bethel and Oxford, trails are only open in the Oxford center, an employee said.

Black Mountain Ski Resort’s Nordic Center trails are closed from Jan. 12-19, because the Rumford ski hill is hosting the annual Eastern Cup Nordic Race Series, said Paige Carter, marketing director.

“Our trails are holding up, but it would be great to get some snow for the whole mountain,” she said. “This isn’t much of a winter. It’s too warm. I hope we get some snow. I’m sick of the ice.”

The Pineland Farms Outdoor Center in New Gloucester was open Monday for Nordic skiing, but closed Tuesday. A recorded message at the ski shop said all trails were closed until further notice due to icy conditions.

“The forecast does not look very promising, but we are keeping our fingers crossed,” the message said.

The Lost Valley Touring Center in Auburn also was closed Tuesday.

The Rangeley Lakes Trail Center in Rangeley was open, offering wet, granular conditions on its 3 kilometers of Nordic skiing on two trails, according to its website. 

“Waiting for the rain to end and hoping for a bit o’ snow on the backside of the storm,” a message on the site stated. “We will be grooming again as soon as conditions permit.”

The Sugarloaf Outdoor Center was open Tuesday, offering Nordic skiing on half of its trails, which are groomed, Manager Chris Parks said.

“We’re holding our own,” he said. “The base is thin in spots.”

A message on the Carrabassett Valley’s conditions report said trails that are open have a snow depth of between 3 and 8 inches.

“Please be aware and use caution that there are some areas on the trails where water puddles existed at the time of grooming and they may or may not be frozen,” an alert stated.

Parks said the rain and series of ice storms have hampered them somewhat.

“It’s definitely a headache for us,” he said. “The skiing is decent. It was nice and soft right after New Year’s. Accomplished skiers are enjoying themselves today.”

Parks and Cooper said they’d like to get some fresh snow soon. Both said they’ve had schools call to learn if they could hold races, which they’ve been doing.

“If we can pick up an inch or two of snow, that will help considerably,” Parks said. “Three inches of snow every two days would be perfect, or a foot or two. I hope this weather pattern changes.”

Cooper said, “Three inches a day is nice; overnight, that would be perfect. One to two feet of snow would be a lot of work to get it under control. Not that I’d complain. At this point, I’d take it. We could use a fresh foot.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: