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Acadia in the winter: Nordic skiing, snowshoeing & the perfect amount of solitude

Acadia in the winter: Nordic skiing, snowshoeing & the perfect amount of solitude

Have you been introduced to Winter Acadia?

Have you met the quiet, snow-covered carriage trails? Or the hiking trails (er, snowshoe trails) blanketed in fluff? Or the cliff walls along Sargeant Drive curtained in ice? And, ah yes, that priceless whole-place-to-myself feeling that comes to a popular national park in the winter?

You won’t really be the only person at Acadia National Park. But there will be times when it feels like it. Shannon Bryan photo

I admit, until last year, I’d only known Warm-Weather Acadia. (There’s no knocking Acadia in the summer and fall. She’s an absolute beaut.) It’s not like I’d been purposely swiping left on Winter Acadia all these year. I hadn’t heard rumors about Winter Acadia (“She’s fun to hang out with, but I’m pretty sure she steals toilet paper from restaurant bathrooms”), and I’m certainly not adverse to cold and snow. I’d just never visited in winter months. And then I did. And now I want to go back every winter forever.

 

Navigating the park in the winter is different than in the summer. Much of the Park Loop Road is closed (a few bits are open, like a short stretch along the ocean and access to Jordan Pond), so you’ll have to plan accordingly. On the upside, there’s no entry fee to get into the park.

But the best part is the pristine winter solitude on the trails. (Or near solitude. There will be other skiers and hikers and snowshoers out there. But there will also be long periods where you’ll be downright certain you’ve got the whole park to yourself.)

cross-country skiing acadia national park
Cross-country skiing on the carriage trails at Acadia National Park. Shannon Bryan photo

The all-volunteer Acadia Winter Trails Association does a really great job maintaining the trails in the winter for cross-country skiing. Find current conditions on friendsofacadia.org and the Friends of Acadia Facebook page.

I especially loved skiing around Eagle Lake last year, stopping to chat with the skiers and snowshoers I met coming the opposite direction (or, okay, lapping me). And of course I met a woman who knew a friend of mine. Because #smalltownmaine.

Last winter’s excursion to Acadia was prompted by an ice-climbing tour I went on with Maine Yoga Adventures. We were guided by the good folks of Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School and had a blast climbing the ice on the cliffs along Sargeant Drive.

Ice Climbing with Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School. Shannon Bryan photo

We ice climbed in the morning and then went on a snowshoe trek in the afternoon (it happened to be a weirdly warm February weekend, and while the plan was to ice climb elsewhere the whole day, we all know how Mother Nature feels about our plans). That was fine by us, since the snowshoe up Dorr Mountain was also splendid.

Don’t be like me. Don’t let another winter fly by without adventuring in Acadia. Whether you sign up for an ice climb or guided snowshoe trek, or you take to the trails on cross-country skis or snowshoes on your own, just get there. The sights can’t be beat, and the quiet will feel good to your brain.

Acadia in the winter

Some helpful resources:

Shannon Bryan

Shannon Bryan

I don't like "exercise" any more than you do. But you know what I do like? Paddleboarding with a friend all afternoon (and then sitting in the grass to drink chardonnay). Bike rides and nachos, hikes, yoga classes held in breweries, group paddles to Fort Gorges, you get the idea. Because Maine is my gym.

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