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Snowy hills and outdoor thrills: A guide to finding fun during a Maine winter

January 26, 2024

Kaya Patel

The air is frigid. The sunlight is fleeting. The snow-covered campus may bring you joy or dread. Regardless of how you feel about the season, whether it is your first time experiencing the cold or your fourth Maine winter, you may feel trapped in your dorm at some point in the coming months. When that moment inevitably arrives, don’t worry! The Bowdoin Orient has you covered with a few fun ways to escape your room and enjoy the beauty of the winter season—while it lasts.

If you want to skate…

Bowdoin Quad Rink – You might have seen an empty patch of the quad filled with sections of ice (or puddles depending on the day). If the weather permits, that patch will soon be open for ice skating. Grab your skates or get a pair on loan from the Student Activities Office to enjoy the ice!

Lower Mall Rink – Looking to get off campus for a quick skate? Go no further than the Lower Mall in the middle of Maine Street. This public skating rink is open as long as the weather permits. The lighted area and natural ice provides for a great skating experience close to campus.

Thompson’s Point & Other Parks – Skate while taking in views of Portland and the Fore River in this outdoor rink. There are skates available for rent as well as a heated lounge and on-site eatery. Deering Oaks Pond in Portland and Mill Creek Park in South Portland also feature great views for a memorable skating experience.

If you want to ski…

Cross-country skiing through the Commons – Don’t want to travel far to go skiing? Head to the Brunswick Commons. This network of trails in town is a popular destination for running in the warmer months but also provides a great option to take out your cross-country skis and unwind after a day of classes.

Learn to Ski with the BOC! – The Bowdoin Outing Club offers a downhill and telemark ski program that gives students who are new to skiing an opportunity to explore the Maine outdoors. More experienced skiers can sign up to be ski instructors for their peers. The telemark program allows students to improve their telemark skiing ability, regardless of their initial level. There’s something for everyone at the BOC this winter!

Night Skiing – Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton showcases a great sunset over Mount Washington with a scenic lake below the resort that glows in the light. Night skiing hours start at 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Other opportunities for night skiing include Sunday River on Fridays and Saturdays, Lost Valley in Auburn, Camden Snow Bowl and Black Mountain of Maine in Rumford on select Wednesdays.

Pineland Farms – New Gloucester’s Pineland Farms brings cross country skiers, snowshoers, skaters and sledders together. Just 30 minutes from campus, these trails offer something for everyone. Gear is available for rent, and lessons are available by appointment.

If you want to go snow tubing and sledding… 

Sledding Hills – If you have a sled, Portland’s Eastern Promenade and Payson Park are great places to go for some thrill and joy after a snowstorm, both located just outside of Portland.

Tubing destinations – Want to feel the rush of flying down the mountain without putting on your skis? Seacoast Adventure in Windham brings prime tubing within an hour’s drive from campus. The Maine Family Snow Tube Park at Lost Valley in Auburn exists as another great option for tubers alongside their skiing and snowboarding trails.

 If you want to go on a winter walk… 

Portland’s Back Cove and East End Beach – This waterfront promenade trail is perfect for both summer and winter walks along the coast. The trail forms a 3.5 mile loop with beautiful views of the cove, harbor and downtown Portland.

Mackworth Island and Gilsland Farm – Both located in Falmouth, Mackworth Island and Gilsland Farm are wonderful places to explore in the winter. The Mackworth Island trail showcases spruce and pine trees along a sandy and rocky beach. The island is also a bird sanctuary! Along the Presumpscot River lies Gilsland Farm, a 65-acre sanctuary with more than two miles of trails around a pond and through the forest, meadow, orchard and salt marsh.

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park – This park outside of Freeport is a close destination for coastal views at any point in the year. Beautiful in both the summer and winter, the state park is a lovely place for a relaxing winter walk. Stop by the livestock education barn to see cows, goats and sheep!

If you want to go to a winter festival… 

Carnaval Maine Winter Festival – This ten-day festival takes place in Portland every year in mid to late February. The festival features live entertainment, ice sculpture displays and demonstrations, food trucks and winter games. It’s also an important local fundraiser: The proceeds from the event go to a nonprofit organization selected by the community organizers.

Snowshoe Festival – The 14th Annual Snowshoe Festival will be held on Saturday, February 17, to celebrate the cultural legacy of the arts in Norway, Maine. The festival includes 2k, 5k and 10k snowshoe races, snowshoe games and local crafts for this grand celebration.

If you want to support local businesses… 

Gelato Fiasco – For every degree below freezing, Gelato Fiasco will give you a 1 percent discount. That might seem insignificant, but with temperatures reaching the teens at night, it accumulates quickly. Try winter flavors like Old Major Persnickety’s Cure for the Common Cold or the Nor’easter next time you go.

Woods + Waters Gear Exchange – This consignment shop is a great place to start looking for your outdoor clothing and gear needs—at discounted rates. From used skis and skates to jackets and snow pants, this place can get you well-dressed for all of your outdoor winter adventures.

Some fun extras… 

Make maple candy in the snow – Alex Kruse ’26 invites students to try a beloved Canadian tradition—pouring maple syrup into the snow on a cold day and wrapping it around a popsicle stick to make a frozen maple candy!

U.S. National Toboggan Championships – Did you know that the U.S. National Toboggan Championships take place each year in Camden and that you can take part in the race? While the name seems intimidating, beginners and experts alike are welcome to come and enter a team in the national race. The only rule is that you need a crazy costume and a fun team name before you can ride the 400-foot-long wooden toboggan track (unfortunately, you must provide your own toboggan to enter…). Registration closes on January 27!







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