Roaming Rob: Snowshoeing 

Snowshoeing has been around for thousands of years. With this winter season already more typical of Maine than what we saw last year, we sent Roaming Rob to give snowshoeing a try on his way to a hut in the scenic western mountains. “I’m at the Flagstaff trailhead in Long Falls Dam. We’re actually making our way to the Flagstaff Hut, owned and operated by Maine Huts & Trails. This will be my first time snowshoeing, but I’m told we should see some beautiful vistas along the way. So, let’s get geared up.”“We are here at the Flagstaff Hut trailhead and I’m joined right now by Cayce Lord. She is with us with the Maine huts & Trails. Cayce, how far does the hut lie down along this trail? “1.8 miles” “Ok, so that’s 1.8 miles of snowshoeing that I’ve never done before, but you’ve done quite a bit of?” “I have.” “So you’ll be able to help me out along the way?” “Let’s hope!” “Awesome. Well, let’s make our way to the hut.”Put one foot in front of the other. That’s pretty much all there is to snowshoeing. It can be a little awkward having some extra snowshoe behind your foot, but that helps to evenly distribute your weight in the snow so you don’t sink through. I found that walking with your toes up just a bit helps. Walking poles can also be a big help, especially to maintain your balance.“So we’re walking down along the trail, Cayce, and I see some other markings, especially those two dips right there. Those are for cross-country skiers?” “They are. We lay track on all of our ski-able trails for cross-country skiing in the wintertime.” “Can people also snowmobile on this trail?” “Snowmobiling? No. We do discourage the use of any motorized vehicles on our trails. So no snowmobiles or ATVs.”The path continued to meander through the snow-covered forest, remaining fairly level, though there were a few small hills along our journey. Just off the trail, I could see there was over a foot of snow on the ground, but the trails were nicely groomed and packed for the many visitors on their way to the secluded hut.“So we’re here at the huts. These are completely self-sustaining. They’ve got solar energy (we do see solar panels around here). And they can sleep up to how many people?” “Roughly 44 people. We can sometimes squeeze in a few more for full hut parties.” “So these are heated. They’ve got a kitchen, with staffing as well, bathrooms…” “Bathrooms, hot showers.” “So it’s kind of like roughing it, but not so much.” “It’s a soft adventure. It’s not too rough.”Maine Huts & Trails, based out of Kingfield, currently owns and operates 4 huts and over 100 miles of trails in the western mountains of the state. As this non-profit continues to grow, the goal is to open several more huts and over 50 more miles of trails.Just a few hundred feet away from the Flagstaff hut, the man-made Flagstaff Lake offers some beautiful views of the Bigelow range. What would normally be a sandy beach is transformed into a deep snow bank during the winter season, with drifts of snow deep enough to swallow a person. I couldn’t believe how quiet the area around the lake was…a breathtaking site made accessible by snowshoeing.“There you have it: my first snowshoeing adventure. It was a little harder than walking, but overall, not bad. Something I think a lot of folks could pick up pretty easily and there are plenty of opportunities to do that here in the Pine Tree State, especially with these Maine huts. There are 3 other different huts that offer plenty of opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and winter hiking.” A big thanks to Cayce Lord, the folks at Maine Huts & Trails, and WABI-TV5 Photographer Tom Round!For more information on these huts, you can check out their website at”