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Snowstorm brings relief to Maine's winter outdoor recreation spots

Travel-Trip-Maine-Backcountry Winter
Lynn Dombek
This December 2012 photo shows Donna Lawlor cross-country skiing on the Lodge to Lodge trail between camps at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s backcountry wilderness lodge near Greenville, Maine.

After weeks with no or limited snow, Friday's storm is finally allowing some recreation centers to open for winter activities, including cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Matt Sabasteanski is the outdoor recreation director for Pineland Farms in New Gloucester. He says prior to Friday, Pineland was only able to open its ski trails for three days this season.

"We're open, and we're not closed. So it's an exponential game changer, really," says Sabasteanski. "You know, our season pass holders are such great supporters of the Nordic center, and it's great to be able to give them the opportunity to use their skis."

As of Friday morning, about 15 kilometers of trails were open and Sabasteanski says groomers are working to open other trails. Because the ground wasn't frozen, the snow needs to be packed in some areas to prevent it from absorbing water.

The president of the Maine Snowmobile Association, Al Swett, says the season is two months behind its typical start date.

"And now it finally snowed. Everything's pretty again. The clubs are gonna be out there doing their trail work and grooming and making everything nice, and our reputation will be back online."

He added, "We're a sport that relies on Mother Nature and we're big business. And if we don't make it, a lot of small businesses fail. Because they need us to carry them over until the summer season starts up. But now, this is phenomenal."

Swett says the snow accumulation this storm should be enough to keep trail conditions in good shape for the foreseeable future. But he cautions that Maine's lakes aren't adequately frozen and people should avoid the ice.

Despite the snow, Swett says people should steer clear of ice on Maine lakes because it's not thick enough to be safe.