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Snowshoeing at Pineland Farms, New Gloucester

The winter of 2020-2021 is allowing all of us the chance to explore our local outdoor surroundings possibly more than we’ve ever done before!

Notice I said “allowing” us, not “forcing” us.

We might feel somewhat forced, but I’m finding that nudge, a welcome one, actually.

My husband and I are lifelong explorers of the outdoors among nature and beauty. We’re both photographers. Exploring the outdoors is part of our every week routine and has been since we were teenagers. Fresh air and exercise are what keep us grounded and sane, give us the wherewithal to handle the “musts” we have in our day-to-day lives. We love where we’ve been over the years, what we’ve seen, the feelings being out in nature and sunshine and all types of weather afford us.

The nudge over this past year has pushed us to be more creative in finding new places. (Seeing pretty much only each other, how many times can we drive back & forth to Scarborough Beach?!) We’ve discovered and explored more new places “in our own backyard” that we can drive to and back within an afternoon since indoor lunches, coffees or bathrooms have been off limits!

Pineland Farms isn’t new to us; we go all seasons – but it topped our destination list this year at the first snowfall. This time, we explored broader on the property and saw parts of it we’d never seen before. And it is absolutely gorgeous!

Upon arrival on a Saturday afternoon, it looked more crowded than we were comfortable with at the check-in booth for buying tickets and renting equipment. We parked nearby, masked up, and thought we’d meander over to check it out. It was wonderful to see so many “bubbles” of happy groups and families, eager to get out on the trails. After so much isolation, the sounds of laughter and seeing people joyful was just the balm we needed. Although busy at the booth, we could see the trails themselves were not looking crowded in the least.

Pineland Farms has over 5,000 acres of woodlands and fields that are open to the public for year-round outdoor activities. It is a working farm and includes the green houses for Olivia’s Gardens produce. It has nearly 20 miles of groomed trails for biking, walking, trail running, Nordic skiing and showshoeing. There is an ice pond for skating, a hill for sledding, a few snow globes for family get-togethers, and the sweetest market & café that shouldn’t be missed….when you’re comfortable going indoors. The market sells the freshest produce, Maine-made gifts, wine, Stonewall Kitchen fare, and has an adorable kids’ corner of books and wooden toys, including the cutest farm. The café sells lunch and snacks, soups, breads and home-made baked goods. They sell Pineland Farms grass-fed beef and their delicious cheeses made at the farm.

We needed only go 50 yards on our snowshoes to be alone. Pineland is a perfect play place because of how big it is – we could easily spread out and stay apart among the wide-open spaces and vistas. The snow shoe trail is a separate trail and area from the Nordic skiing trails and from the fat-tire biking trails. This allows you to go at your own pace and experience level.

Once we got to the back of the barns, the afternoon sun was beginning to drop in the sky and the light was absolutely stunning. I tied my jacket around my waist; the exercise always heats me up regardless of the air temperature. The snow-covered hills were reflected in my sun glasses.

I’ve taken a needed break from writing and photography over this past challenging year. The clutter of all that was happening around me was drowning out the quiet of my own voice inside. On this day at Pineland Farms, it was like the icy veneer covering my frame began to melt. I began to take 100’s of photos and was having a blast being creative in what I saw and how to frame the image I wanted to capture. The words for this blog began writing themselves in my mind. By day’s end, I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders and life was good!

That is what brings us outdoors regularly, long before COVID hit!

In addition to exercise and fresh air, if snowshoeing at Pineland Farms, on a bright-blue-sky winter day in Maine, can make me feel like THAT, well, that was time well-spent and an excursion worth doing!

Hope to see you on the trails one day….well half of you…behind that mask (for now).

Take care of yourself and others!


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