It’s been notably snowless so far this winter (and by “winter,” I’m including all of December, even though I well know that, technically, winter starts Dec. 21. But who are we kidding, right? December = winter). I expect to see snow, dangit!

Sure, there’s no shoveling/windshield scraping/sliding into ditches to worry about, but you know what else this December is missing? Snowshoeing. Cross-country skiing. Snow forts.

But I’m an optimist, which means I’m looking forward to those simple pleasures in the coming months. And to help folks like you and me who want to get out into the snow, there’s Winter Trails Day, a national effort to encourage folks to get outside by offering FREE intro to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing lessons and rentals. And it’s coming up on January 9, 2016.

Here in Maine, participating venues include Carter’s XC Ski Center in Oxford, Rangeley Lakes Trails Center in Rangeley, Pineland Farms in New Gloucester and Harris Farm XC Ski Center in Dayton.

Winter Trails Day in Maine

Carter’s XC Ski Center
420 Main St., Oxford
Free rentals and trail passes from 1 to 4 p.m. to first-time skiers.

Rangeley Lakes Trails Center
524 Saddleback Mountain Road, Rangeley
Day pass includes rental equipment. Group lessons for cross-country skiing available at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Limited to 10 per session. Please call to reserve your day pass, rental equipment and lesson slot.

Harris Farm XC Ski Center
280 Buzzell Road, Dayton
Free Learn to Ski Lesson with free rentals and trail pass. Must call to reserve rentals and 10 a.m. lesson.

Pineland Farms
32 Farm View Road, New Gloucester
Skiing and snowshoeing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information on Winter Trails Day:

For details on Maine locations: choose “ME” from the dropdown).