Cross-country skiing. AT NIGHT!
I’m not sure why it feels like such a rare treat (there’s nothing stopping us from slipping on a headlamp and heading out to ski after the sun clocks out for the day. Well, some places close at dusk, and we should respect that. And we shouldn’t trespass on private property. We’re not criminals, for Nordic’s sake! But aside from those things, there’s nothing stopping us)!
But skiing under the lights at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington DOES feel like a treat.
Titcomb is a family-friendly place to ski – downhill or cross-country. The mountain might be small compared to its bigger cousins in Bethel and Carrabassett Valley, but with day passes from $5-$22 (free Friday night skiing in February!) and kid-friendly atmosphere, it’s a cool little community ski area.
The no-frills lodge has two rooms of tables (BYOLunch or buy a burger/grilled cheese/chowder/pizza from the snack counter) and a fireplace to warm up in front of.
And the 16 kilometers of cross-country trails are pretty sweet, too.
A day pass for cross-country skiing is $10 and the trails are regularly groomed for classic and skate skiing. There’s also a rental shed, should you need to rent equipment.
My friend Wendy and I made the two-hour drive from Portland in search of snow (we found it in Farmington!), arriving in the late afternoon to give us time to ski in daylight before the sun went down. The trails here are well marked for difficulty (grabbing a trail map at the lodge is always a good idea) and I loved skiing surrounded by trees (too many afternoons spent skiing on golf courses, perhaps).
There are some splendid hills here, too, that’ll give you a solid workout to go up and a fun weeeeeeeeeee! to go down.
And eventually, the sun goes down. (It’s the night skiing we came for, after all!)
Full disclosure: These night skiing photos were actually taken a week after the daytime photos because I failed to realize that Titcomb Mountain closes at 4 p.m. on Sundays. Wendy and I left to get a beer in town (more on that below) and returned after dark to do some more skiing, only to discover complete darkness on the trails. No lights whatsoever. So I went back the following Saturday and that’s when I learned about THE BUTTON.
The lights on the cross-country trails don’t turn on automatically, see. You need to hit the button located on the trailhead kiosk. I totally missed the button during my first visit, and an employee had to point it out to me during my second visit after I inquired, “When do the lights come on?” (The answer: When you hit the button. Magic!)
Did I feel foolish not knowing about the button a week earlier? Yup. Was it worth driving back to Farmington to ski at night and have the whole place to myself? Absolutely.
Not all of the trails are lit, but there’s enough to keep you happily occupied for a while. And wow, is it pretty.
For a ski break or apres-ski beer, check out Tuck’s Ale House on Main Street in Farmington. It’s just a seven-minute drive from Titcomb and their beer selection is impressive (the food selection, not so much. If you want a good meal, head to nearby The Homestead Kitchen, Bar and Bakery on Broadway).
180 Ski Slope Rd, Farmington
www.titcombmountain.com and www.facebook.com/TitcombMountain
Day pass for Nordic skiing: $10
Hours: 3-6 p.m. M-TH, Fridays in February 4-8 p.m., 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.