Last year’s Loppet featured a colorful starting line-up in the stadium. Photo courtesy of Rangeley Lakes Trails Center

RANGELEY — The winter outdoor recreation scene is bustling at the Rangeley Lakes Trails Center (RLTC) on Saddleback Mountain Road in Rangeley, where they will host the 25th Annual Rangeley Lakes Loppet on Saturday, March 2.

Skiers jockey for position, right after the start of last year’s Loppet. Photo courtesy of Rangeley Lakes Trails Center

The Loppet, a Nordic long-distance ski race, has been a part of the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA) Marathon series for many years and has built a great reputation as being one of the best Nordic races in New England and beyond. There are many out-of-state competitors who make this race a priority in their schedule.

Three competitors in the 2018 Loppet make their way up a sunny hill. Photo courtesy of Rangeley Lakes Trails Center

The race has categories for classic and skate, with 25km and 50km course lengths. The Loppet also offers a 25km Touring class for those who don’t need to push the pedal to the metal but would like to enjoy the challenge of the course at their own pace. The race course takes in a terrific variety of terrain with views of Saddleback Mountain and Saddleback Lake and the mountains beyond. There are refreshment stations along the way offering energy drinks and cookies for stamina.

Bears, hand-carved by Rodney Richard Jr., patiently wait to be awarded as top prizes in the 2018 Loppet. Photo courtesy of Rangeley Lakes Trails Center

The best part about the event is the spectacular post-race feed for the hungry racers. A variety of hearty soups are donated by local restaurants, locals bake and donate cookies, and then there’s the infamous sausages, peppers and onions served on a bun. All served up by our smiling and dedicated volunteer crew. No wonder they have a great reputation.

It looks like there’s going to be plenty of snow to make it a spectacular race once again this year. Register online at skireg.com or call the RLTC to register by phone at 864-4309. Details about the race, accommodations, maps, trail conditions and more can be found on their website at rangeleylakestrailscenter.org.

Even if you don’t intend to race, come enjoy some great discounted rates during mid-week. The website has all the details about Locals’ Appreciation Days, Maine Days, Ladies’ Day, and Men’s Day. The Rangeley Lakes Trails Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. See you on the trails.