Well, the snow has started to fly, the temperature has gone down and you’re starting to hear all of those annoying cancellations and delays on the radio again. Time to retreat? Curl up in a ball in front of the fire? Make friends with your couch? No way! Winter is the perfect time to take up hiking in Maine! The best way to beat the winter blues is to make sure you stay active. Exercize raises endorphins, which are a feel good chemical your brain naturally produces. It helps you cope with stress, stay in shape, and function better overall. Winter is no excuse to stop an exercise regimen. You just have to dress warmly and be more careful about where you go. Hiking can be a great activity to share with friends, and hiking with others makes it more enjoyable.
You’ll want to make sure you have a good pair of boots, a heavy coat, and a hat and gloves suitable for the weather. Frostbite and hypothermia are both something you want to avoid at all costs, so know your limits. That said, with the proper gear, getting out in the crisp winter air can be invigorating. I first suggest Wolfe’s Neck State Park in Freeport. Wolfe’s Neck is a good place because it has several different trails ranging in difficulty level. You can do an easy walk down to the ocean for some sight-seeing; a one mile loop; or a several mile trail onto more difficult terrain for advanced hikers. On some trails, you even have a view of the ocean most of the way. What could be better – being in the woods while still having a view of the ocean! My friends and I tested out this trail last weekend. It was early December, and had snowed the day before, but the snow had turned into slush and was easily bypassable on the trails. We did a short trail that led along the ocean, and turned back when it merged into a longer and steeper trail. It took us probably an hour round trip; enough to get some exercise but not be more than we could handle.
Bradbury Mountain is another favorite, not far from Wolfe’s Neck and also in Freeport. This mountain has an absolutely stunning view from the top, and is a relatively short hike to the top. It is a little on the steep side, but not too bad. For a minimal amount of effort (a good thing when the temperature is 30 degrees or less), you can get an amazing view, a good place to rest, and a feeling of connection with nature. If you’re more into walking then hiking, you can take a drive over to Mackworth Island in Falmouth as our last place; only about 15 minutes outside of Portland, this oasis of an island is very popular with locals and tourists alike. There is an easy, approximately one mile trail around the island, and a bridge that goes from Falmouth to the island. There is a nice bench swing that you can sit on and look out on Casco Bay, and beautiful views all along the island. A good place to go for a walk in nature, without having to engage in anything too difficult. One last option is walking around the Back Cove Trail, also known as Back Bay, a 3.5 mile loop that circles the ocean in downtown Portland; it passes Payson Park, the Eastern Prom and leads to the Old Port. A great dog toy for the walk Wobble Wag Giggle Ball Toy
See? It may be cold out, and it may be winter, but there are some easy, accessible hiking and walking options right in your own backyard here in southern Maine. Hiking doesn’t have to be difficult or take hours to complete. You don’t have to stop exercising just because the weather got cold. Get off your couch and get out in nature today!