We've been watching the evolution of the non-profit Maine Huts & Trails system in the Carrabassett Valley ever since the first backcountry lodge opened at Poplar Stream Falls (about 8.5 miles from the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center) in the winter of 2008. Next the group opened the Flagstaff Lake Hut (11.4 miles farther north) last year, and the Grand Falls hut (another 13 miles north) this October. The area got a big dump of fresh snow last weekend (11-19 inches, south to north), resulting in spectacular trails groomed for both classic and skate cross-country skiing. Plans call for the trail and hut system to extend for 200 miles, but the current 30-mile stretch is a great start.
There are no trail fees, but given the distance and remote nature of the terrain, you'll almost certainly want to spend the night at one of the huts--conveniently spaced an easy day's ski (or hike) from each other. Prices are $65/night for adult members ($75 non-members) every night except Saturday, when the rate goes to $80/$93. Rates include bunk, dinner, and breakfast. Lunch is available for purchase. February is the busiest month, and March is starting to fill up. But there's room at the huts throughout January. For details, visit www.mainehuts.org or call 877-634-8824.
Photos by Dennis Walsh, courtesy of Maine Huts & Trails