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Four Season Biking in Maine's Northwestern Mountains Region

January 25, 2024
Four Season Biking in Maine's Northwestern Mountains Region

Maine’s Northwestern Mountains are becoming increasingly well known as a biking destination, primarily in the summer months. But what may not be as well known is that the area offers a variety of biking options in all four seasons. Being fortunate enough to live here, I was recently able to set and meet a personal goal of riding my bike outdoors every day of 2022.

               There are many riding options in the summer months. In Carrabassett Valley, the Carrabassett Valley Trails Committee (CVTC) is a unique collaboration between the town of Carrabassett Valley, the local chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association (Carrabassett Region NEMBA), Maine Huts & Trails, and Sugarloaf. The CVTC maintains and supports a network of over 80 miles of trails, catering to every ability of rider. The Sugarloaf Outdoor Center serves as the hub of the trail network, and there are also several other trailheads in town that provide convenient access to the network. Up to date trail conditions can be found on the Carrabassett Region NEMBA website. Trail maps are available at the trailhead kiosks and at numerous other locations around town. There are two local bike shops open during the mountain bike season, and both offer rental bikes. Sugarloaf Mountain features recently built enduro and downhill trails, with some new intermediate and beginner trails planned for the future. Also worth a visit is Freeman Ridge Bike Park in Kingfield, a private, family-run trail network located about a mile south of downtown Kingfield, with about 5 miles of trails aimed at all abilities.

               As summer turns to fall, there are few better ways to enjoy the foliage than on a bike. The Maine Huts & Trails network is a great option for bike riding in the fall. The Maine Huts network connects their four backcountry huts with a variety of well-maintained trails. Poplar Stream Trail and Crommett’s Overlook are just two of the trails that allow for some of the best foliage viewing in the region.

               In the winter, fat tire biking is some of the most fun that you can have on a bike, and there are plenty of winter riding options in the area. In Carrabassett Valley, the Narrow Gauge Pathway is regularly groomed for Nordic skiers and fat tire bikers to share. There are also several singletrack trails adjacent to the Narrow Gauge that are groomed by CRNEMBA volunteers. The CVTC trail conditions page is maintained and updated in the winter, also. Maine Huts & Trails regularly groom their trail network in the winter, and also welcome fat tire bikers to share the trails with Nordic skiers and hikers. The Sugarloaf Outdoor Center designates a few select trails for fat tire biking, while over in Rangeley, the Rangeley Lakes Trails Center makes their trail system available for fat tire bikers to enjoy.

               Once the snow starts to melt in the spring, there is usually a short time period when the trails are closed to allow for snow melt drainage and drying. Spring is a great time for road and gravel biking, and there are plenty of opportunities for both in the region. A favorite road bike ride is from Stratton up to the Canadian border and back. The road winds by Sarampus Falls and through Chain of Ponds and is some of the nicest road riding in the state. There are also several good gravel rides in the area. A favorite is Caribou Pond Road in Carrabassett Valley, an easy mellow climb up to the pond and a fun descent back down.

               So, bring your bike along or plan to rent one on your next visit, no matter what the season!

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