Rangeley has countless snowshoeing options.
Here are some favorites.
Article by Travis Ferland, owner of the Rangeley Inn & Tavern
Snowshoeing is an excellent way to get outdoors, stay fit, and beat cabin fever – even on some of the coldest of winter days. You’ll be outside breathing fresh air and after just a few minutes your heart rate will increase and you might even break a sweat. If you pick the right day you’ll even get to soak up some sunshine and much needed vitamin D. Rangeley offers countless options for snowshoeing, and many of the same trails can be used by cross-country or telemark skiers.
If you’re new to snowshoeing, prefer groomed trails, or are looking for the best trails for cross-country skiing, you can’t beat the Rangeley Lakes Trails Center. Located just below Saddleback Mountain, the facility features 35 miles of mapped groomed and natural trails, on varied terrain. There are interesting features like bridges and streams, and many of the trails lead to Saddleback Lake. You could easily spend an entire day here, and be sure to take advantage of the Trail Center’s yurt for warming up or for their delicious snacks.
The trails at the Wilhelm Reich Museum are not groomed, but they meander gently through a very beautiful forest that’s teeming with wildlife. Trails start by the Museum and from the parking area near Dodge Pond Road. They pass by the tomb and bust of Wilhelm Reich along with his cloud seeding device, stunning scenic views of Dodge Pond and Saddleback Mountain in the distance, and Quimby Brook. Bring along the kids and a guide for animal tracks, so they can try to identify who else has been visiting the museum’s grounds.
The Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust maintains several trail networks ideal for snowshoeing, including South Bog, Hatchery Brook, Hunter Cove, Bonney Point, and the very extensive and remote Forest Legacy trails. Visit their office on Main Street in Rangeley for trail conditions, maps, and more information about the organization.
For those seeking more of a challenge, Bald Mountain has an easily accessible trail that gradually winds through a beautiful open forest of primarily deciduous trees. In the last half-mile the trail makes a decisive turn directly up Bald Mountain, challenging snowshoers with a much steeper trail, some ledges, and possibly some ice. The summit rewards those who persevere, offering a fire tower with dramatic views across beautiful snow-covered evergreens, of frozen Rangeley and Mooselookmeguntic Lakes. Bald Mountain has two trailheads, located on Route 4 and on Bald Mountain Road. The Route 4 trailhead parking lot is plowed in the winter, while the Bald Mountain Road trailhead parking lot is not.
Advanced Snowshoe Hikes
Ardent adventurers will think nothing of climbing a 4,000+ foot mountain in the dead of winter, but I suggest picking a warm, sunny day with little to no wind for these hikes. Check overnight weather conditions as well – and prepare yourself accordingly. Bring ample food and water, cold weather gear, first aid supplies, a fire-starter, and preferably an emergency bivy. There are inherent risks with climbing the high peaks, especially in winter, but the payoff is tremendous. Beyond the challenging rugged terrain, the summits of these peaks offer dramatic vistas of the entire region. Advanced options include Saddleback Mountain, Cranberry Peak, The Horns and West Peak in the Bigelow Range, Avery Peak in the Bigelow Range, Little Bigelow, Burnt Mountain, Mount Abraham, and Tumbledown Mountain.