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Exploring BTLT’s Trails This Winter

While winter weather arrived a bit later this year, snow is starting to coat our yards, roads, and trails! All of BTLT’s trail are open year-round, but please note that not all parking areas are plowed or accessible when there is snow and ice*. Read on to find out more about visiting your favorite local trails this winter and a few friendly reminders to help you prepare for winter adventure.

Wintertime Reminders

  • Not all parking areas will be plowed immediately after a storm, so plan appropriately if you arrive before the plow has and visit another nearby preserve rather than parking along the roadside, which can be dangerous in the wintertime with narrow shoulders and roads also being plowed.  
  • Remember to always stay on the trail while snowshoeing or cross-country skiing during the winter unless otherwise directed by signage to respect sensitive areas and landowners’ privacy as well as that of nearby neighbors.
  • Trails are likely to be icy and contain slipping hazards, particularly after a light dusting of snow, so be cautious and bring micro spikes or crawlers with you just in case.
  • Share the trail! Many trails are great for both cross country skiing and snowshoeing/walking, so please try not to walk in tracks to keep them usable for others.
  • Unfortunately, we could not find anyone to groom our trails this year – if you or anyone you know are interested in grooming for us, please reach out to info@btlt.org! 

Androscoggin Woods – Temporarily closed due to driveway conditions – we hope to re-open soon!

Bradley Pond Farm – This newly re-opened trail system and parking area are open year-round. If you’re snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, remember you must stay on trail at all times to respect the landowners’ privacy. 

Cathance River Nature Preserve – Reminder that Hiker Parking is closed and visitors must park in the Ecology Center parking area, which is plowed during the winter. Notoriously icy the past few winters, be sure to plan your visit appropriately and keep a pair of ice spikes in the car should you need them!

Chase ReserveThe trails and parking area are open for wintertime exploration!

Crystal Spring FarmA beloved place to snowshoe and cross-country ski in the winter, remember to share the trail and try to keep ski tracks on one side of the pathway and snowshoes and boots on the other! Please stick to the edge of the woods if you are exploring the fields so that crop beds underneath do not get damaged when there is thin snow cover or rapid freeze thaw taking place. Please note the only a portion of the Farmers’ Market parking area is plowed during the wintertime.

Head of Tide Park – Please note that the gate is closed north of Cathance Road during the wintertime and visitors must park in the other parking lot across the bridge.

*Skolfield Preserve – Please note that while the trails are open, the grassy parking area is not plowed or maintained during the winter and should only be attempted by 4-wheel drive vehicles.

Smart – This trail remains open during the winter and is accessible on foot only.

Maquoit Bay Conservation Lands – Views of Maquoit Bay can be enjoyed from this property year-round. 

Neptune Woods – These trails are used year-round by hikers and bikers alike – bikers should remember to pay attention to trail conditions during times of thaw to prevent trail erosion.

Tarbox Preserve – Enjoy views of the Cathance River from Tarbox Preserve this winter!

Woodward Cove – This property is open year-round for low-impact recreation as well as access to the working waterfront. Please note that only a portion of the parking area is plowed during the winter.

Woodward Point – Owned by Maine Coast Heritage Trust and co-managed with BTLT, Woodward Point is open year-round and the parking lot is plowed. Please observe all boundary signage when cross country skiing and respect abutting neighbors’ privacy. A fantastic place to cross country ski but be sure to get out there soon after snowfall as this coastal property is often the first place to lose its snow! 

Tips for Staying Active Through the Winter

February is here, and although we are inching toward warmer months, we still have a long time until we swap our Bean Boots for flip flops. For some of us, that means an exciting mix of weekend trips for skiing or snowshoeing, but for others, it might take an extra effort to get out the door this season.

We get it! It’s tough to stay motivated when it’s -5 degrees without the windchill. But even though it’s cold, for our minds and bodies, it’s best to stay active through every season.

With this blog post and guidance from our Wellness Resource, we hope to give you a little extra motivation and some tips for staying active this winter.

Dress for the elements. The great Sir Ranulph Fiennes said, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing,” and we couldn’t agree more. Stay away from cotton, as it will wick away your body heat if it is exposed to moisture. Fleece and wool are my personal favorites, but polyester layers will keep you warm, too. Check out local secondhand and thrift stores for great deals on these pricier garments.

Layer, layer, layer! Have you ever walked outside with your warmest coat on and a t-shirt underneath? If your coat that’s rated for -15 degrees is too hot for you but the t-shirt just won’t suffice, you’ll be caught in a sticky situation. That’s why when you’re dressing for an outdoor adventure, you should always dress in layers. A good idea is to start with your lightest one and build up from there, knowing that as your heart rate goes up, you’ll probably stuff some layers in your backpack. Pro-Tip: avoid multiple layers with zippers as they can bunch up and chafe.

Cover up! Balaclavas or Buff® Neck Gaiters cover up your neck and face, preventing sensitive skin from the elements, sunburn, frost nip, and frostbite. They’re a great investment for the winter, but I even use my thinner Buff® garments sea kayaking in the summertime as extra sun protection. Bring gloves, too! Even if you don’t put them on to start out, it’s always nice to have the option for a spontaneous snowball fight with friends.

Stay hydrated. Keep water accessible so you’re more likely to drink it. Just like hiking in the summertime, your mind and body perform better when hydrated. I prefer to keep a bladder in my backpack so I don’t have to keep unscrewing a lid, but make sure you take sips every now and then or the hose might freeze up on you!

Eat up! Avoid hangry situations by keeping healthy snacks in your pockets when you go on adventures in cold weather. Some favorites of mine are Larabars, homemade peanut butter energy balls, beef jerky, and dried, unsulfured papaya. No matter the season, make sure that any waste you produce is put in a ZIPPED pocket. Remember that most litter is unintentional and do your best to prevent it by being proactive.

Keep your heart-rate up. You’ll stay warmer if you are producing heat through the activity you’re doing. Try to avoid activities that will drastically increase and then decrease your heart-rate if you’re not used to it. Producing lots of body heat (or sweat) followed by periods of stagnation can be uncomfortable and at worst, can open yourself up to cold-related injuries like frost nip, frost bite, and hypothermia. Keeping a steady heart-rate is best.

Have fun! Try things out, meet new people, go to new places. You’ll be amazed by how much fun you have when you give yourself the opportunity to enjoy the coldest months of the year. You’ll enjoy the quiet of the trail, see wildlife, and enjoy new activities all while doing something great for your body and your mind.

Join an outing group. It’s easy to lapse into the laziness of wintertime when you’re just trying to motivate yourself to get out and stay active, but outing groups can add that extra push to go on that hike you’ve been putting off. Check out our list of local outing groups located on BTLT’s new online wellness resource.

Find local events and outings. Even if you don’t want to commit to joining a group, you can look to local organizations for led hikes and outings that are open to the public. The Great Maine Outdoor Weekend is a fantastic opportunity to check out local trails, meet new people, and enjoy a wide breadth of recreational opportunities in the state. Join us at the Cathance River Nature Preserve for our Great Maine Outdoor Weekend Snowshoe/Hike Outings with AMC on February 8 and February 15 or at Neptune Woods for a group fat tire mountain bike ride with Six Rivers NEMBA followed by a Brews for a Cause Fundraiser at Flight Deck Brewing on February 10. All upcoming BTLT events and outings can be found here.

Find activities for less. It’s no secret that winter is the slow season in Maine. During the summer, you can hardly find a parking spot from Biddeford to Bath, but the winter can sometimes seem like a ghost town. Unsurprisingly, lots of businesses put forth an effort to get locals in the door. It might take some searching, but deals like Bath Skate Park’s monthly Millennials Night are out there! If you prefer to go downhill, Liftopia.com frequently offers discounts on lift tickets to local mountains. Beyond the deals, there are fun and inexpensive ways to stay active, like visiting a public skating rink in Brunswick or Bath, going for a cross-country ski on the trails at Crystal Spring Farm, or enjoying a leisurely snowshoe at Bradley Pond Farm Preserve.

For more activity ideas, visit BTLT’s new Wellness Resource today!

However you decide to stay active through the seasons, let us know by tagging @brunswicktopsham on Instagram, tagging Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust on Facebook, or by sending your photo and a story to kate@btlt.org.