Reprinted courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism

MAINE – Vacationers know that Maine offers an opportunity to get away from it all while serving up a healthy dose of adventure. Here in the “Outdoor Adventure Capital of the East,” outdoor fun comes in all forms and can be as easy or as challenging as you like.

While some outdoor adventures can be considered rough and tumble, many are termed “soft adventures.” These generally appeal to those who want to have fun outside at their own pace. Of course, any Maine adventure can be as “soft” or as “hard” as you want to make it.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

For many, winter in Maine means schussing down beautifully groomed or powdery slopes while looking out over picturesque, snow-capped mountain ranges. With gradual trails for beginners, some of the steepest terrain in New England for experts, world-class super-pipes, exciting terrain parks, and state-of-the-art grooming and snowmaking, Maine’s mountains have something for everyone.

Maine offers downhill enthusiasts a total of 18 ski areas, a wide variety of on-mountain lodging, and endless off-mountain opportunities.
Skiers and riders at Sugarloaf/USA, Maine’s second highest peak, can enjoy the only lift-served above tree line skiing in the East.
Sunday River offers skiers and riders eight different peaks and a wide variety of terrain.
At Camden Snowbowl skiers and riders have the unique opportunity to look out over the Atlantic Ocean as they cruise down the slopes.
Nordic Skiing

Maine has over 600 kilometers of cross-country skiing at dozens of Nordic ski centers. These centers provide safe, well-maintained and groomed trails. Many also offer snowshoeing and ice skating, and most offer equipment rentals and instruction. Some ski centers even have dog-friendly sections of their trail systems.

The terrain and quality of natural snow in northern Maine is ideal for Nordic skiing and the town of Fort Kent in Aroostook County is home to the Maine Winter Sports Center (MWSC). The MWSC, with 37 km of cross country trails, will host the International Biathlon Union’s 2004 Biathlon World Cup, March 3-6, 2004.
Another way to enjoy cross-country skiing in Maine is with the assistance of a Registered Maine Guide. A Maine Guide who specializes in Nordic skiing can lead you on a unique ski-touring adventure into Maine’s remote inland wilderness or along Maine’s scenic coast.
The adventurous may want to try skijoring. In skijoring, a skier is attached by a harness and shock-corded line system to one or two dogs, and is towed along, much like water skiing.
Maine has over 10,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, many of which feature trailside lodging. Over a dozen businesses offer sled and gear rentals throughout the state.

Whether heading out for the day or a week or more, Maine’s expansive trail systems offers something for everyone.

Snowmobile gatherings and events highlight Maine’s winter calendar including the Rangeley Snodeo and Presque Isle’s New England Ice Drags in January; the Saint John Valley’s International Snowmobilers’ Festival and Fort Kent’s Annual Mardi Gras in February; and poker runs, ice drags, hill climbs, and radar runs held throughout the state all winter long.

Hiking has always been a popular reason for visiting Maine. There are numerous trails of varying difficulty, but the payoff is spectacular scenery, a wonderful sense of adventure and the thrill of discovery.

The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, (207) 287-3821 or www.maine.gov/doc/parks/ , can provide hiking maps for state parks.

Biking is another good example of “soft” and “hard” adventure. A leisurely trip of discovery along Maine’s quiet back roads is quite different from the challenge of mountain biking at Sugarloaf/USA or the Sunday River ski area where snake-like trails seem to go straight up to the sky and coming down is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

For more information, visit Office of Passenger Transportation, Bike and Pedestrian Section, Bike Tours in Maine at www.exploremaine.org/bike.

Canoes are ideal for exploring Maine’s clear, clean waters. Forests, mountains, and lowlands are criss-crossed with a vast network of watersheds and offer paddlers a wide range of choices, from gentle current to raging whitewater. Whatever your interest or ability, you will find a place to paddle in Maine.

Whitewater enthusiasts will find a host of swift rivers and streams to play on, ranging from easy ripples to some of the most challenging rapids in the East. Many rivers are dam-controlled and provide good paddling throughout the summer, while others rely on rainfall and snowmelt and can only be run in spring or after a wet spell.

Canoe outfitting, rentals, shuttle services, instruction, and guided trips are available throughout the state. Guide services offer trips ranging from a few hours to many days, and usually include outfitting, meals, instruction, and transportation.
Sea Kayaking

Sea kayaking is fast becoming a popular sport along the coast of Maine. It’s the perfect way to explore some of Maine’s 3,000 islands.

Many outfitters offer guided half-day and full-day trips. Most offer clinics that will help prepare you for an exciting coastal adventure.

Sailors have enjoyed Maine’s 5,500 miles of seacoast for hundreds of years. Several coastal communities offer dock space and restaurants that cater to visitors arriving in sailboats.

For those who want the adventure without buying the boat, there are a number of sailing charters available that include instruction in how to sail, as well as several that just put you on board and head right out.
For those who want the ultimate in a Maine sailing adventure, consider a cruise on a windjammer schooner, hearty survivors of Maine’s maritime heritage. Choose from hour-long cruises to multi-day getaways. On every cruise lighthouses, seabirds, seals and porpoises abound, with ever-changing scenery around every rocky bend. These high sea adventures are popular, so book well in advance.

If pampered water sports are not your thing, consider a whitewater rafting trip on any of three Maine rivers renowned for their breath-taking whitewater and scenery.

Two of the rivers – the Kennebec and the Dead – converge at The Forks, which serves as headquarters for most of Maine’s rafting companies.
The Penobscot, the largest of the three rivers, flows almost in the shadow of Katahdin, the state’s highest mountain.
Unlike most other eastern rivers whose water volume reaches high levels only during the spring run-off, the Penobscot, the Kennebec and the Dead are dam-controlled and provide high-water rafting from late April through mid-October.
For more information on outdoor adventure opportunities in Maine, visit the Maine Office of Tourism’s Web site at www.visitmaine.com or call 888-95-MAINE.