ACADIA NAT’L PARK — While visitation here during the winter months runs far below summer’s peak, the most popular trails and carriage roads can be very busy, especially on a sunny, weekend day right after a decent snowfall.
Cross-country skiers share the trails with snowshoers, walkers and people out with dogs.
On carriage roads groomed for winter sports enthusiasts, including the Witch Hole Pond, Aunt Betty Pond, Hadlock Pond and other Brown Mountain areas, one side is set up with a traditional, classic, double-groove, cross-country ski track. The center portion is leveled and raked for skate skiing.
Establishment of the groomed portion of the trail takes hours of work by volunteers from Friends of Acadia’s Acadia Winter Trails Association. Setting track requires the use of snowmobiles, or larger, tracked grooming equipment, that make several passes to pack down the base. Then special sleds are towed over the snow to create the formal tracks.
Those on snowshoes, barebooting it or walking dogs are encouraged to travel on the other side of the path to avoid “posthole” footprints in the ski tracks.
Deep footprints and other obstructions, particularly if the imperfections refreeze, can bring a skier’s smooth glide to a quick halt.
Signs are posted at most busy winter trail access points explaining the user lane system. There are no rules or regulations requiring walkers or snowshoers to stay off the ski track. It’s just a matter of common courtesy.
“Once people understand the reasoning behind the lane system, they are happy to stick to it,” said Paige Steele, Friends of Acadia conservation projects manager. “The volunteers from the AWTA put in long hours, late into the night and getting up well before dawn, working to make the ski trails as perfect as possible.”
“A great fringe benefit of winter grooming is having an easily accessible place to walk and snowshoe in the park, and having everyone keep other visitors in mind while they enjoy Acadia creates a better experience for all of us,” she said.
As in summer, any dogs brought into the park must be kept on a leash no longer than six-feet long.
In winter, fat-tire bikes are allowed on the Park Loop Road, on frozen lakes and on carriage roads not groomed for skiers.
Skijoring, when a person on skis is pulled by an animal, is prohibited.
Snowmobiles are allowed on the Park Loop Road and on two sections of carriage road including from Wildwood Stables to Jordan Pond House, and from Bubble Pond to the north end of Eagle Lake. The park’s 35 mph speed limit applies.
The Cadillac Mountain Summit Road is also open to snowmobiles, although the trail is not groomed and bare ice patches and high drifts often make some sections impassable.
Walkers and snowshoers are allowed in all areas of the park.
To find out more about the Acadia Winter Trails Association and how you can support ski trail grooming in the park visit friendsofacadia.org.