Winter Nirvana in Northern Maine

The last two winters have been, well let’s just say, painful for the business community in northern Maine where snowmobiling makes up as much as 30% of some businesses annual gross revenues……but 2013 already has the kaching meters running with nearly 30 inches of snow in many places and grooming beginning to gear up full tilt.   The day after Christmas the trucks and trailers began to arrive, the phone started ringing off the hook and folks seem to be in pretty good spirits.    

There are of course some hiccups as most of the land that folks recreate on in Maine is privately owned and there is an active working landscape…..especially in The County so we work together to overcome some obstacles……..but sometimes it takes a bit longer.   So if you are headed north just keep in mind there are some big reroutes created by some logging operations…….and yes….it IS THEIR LAND……so please if the trail is marked closed……..well…. take that word CLOSED to  mean…..CLOSED and please stay out until the area reopens…..which it usually does.

So here goes:

Overall..there has been another foot of powder with a small amount of sleet giving it some moisture so early season sledding is starting off great !!   HOWEVER…..there are a lot of hiccups this early in the season so please see below……by the way……we were unscathed by the recent ice storm but our sympathies go out to those folks in central Maine some of whom still don’t have power !!!    

  • We have some lake riders BUT….although the lakes were freezing up pretty well, this snow accumulation will add some slushing and sledders are advised to stay off the lakes and let mother nature work her magic this week which looks to be perfect for making ice !
  • ITS 85 certainly is being impacted with closures due to logging and rerouting so please read below to find out where and where not to ride right now
  • And speaking of reroutes, there have been a number of them so pay attention and follow the signs.
  • Keep in mind that there are some long distances between gas stations so look at the reroutes and plan accordingly
  • Many clubs still are working on trail markings so keep that in mind.  Most should complete the task by the end of this weekend
  • MOOSE ALERT  Cute critters but they are out everywhere.  Be especially careful on ITS 88 on the Presque Isle end where this baby moose has been sited and licking snow off the groomer blade!
Baby moose licking snow off the blade of a trail groomer !!

Baby moose licking snow off the blade of a trail groomer !!


Trail Info

 !ITS 85    Lots of reroutes in the area so hopefully by the first week of the new year the trails will be opened and signed.  ITS 85 and 86 will share location south of Ox Bow for several miles to Grand Lake Rd.   Trail 71D will not cross to Shin Pond.  Trail 71A Oxbow to Ashland will be done by Ashland which hasn’t begun  grooming yet. New Trail off ITS 85 in Ox Bow that will go to new clubhouse and groomer shed and maybe a cup of coffee! Further north there is a section of 85 north of Wallagrass that will be closed for two weeks however travel between Eagle Lake and Portage is uninterrupted on the new route Portage developed.  Carter Brook to Ft Kent is open and groomed as well but sledders are reminded that 92A off 85 north towards St Francis is closed due to logging until the end of January or mid February.

 !ITS  83    Oakfield and Linneus still looking for a reroute so that section will remain closed for a bit.  Also Sherman has a section of 83 closed due to a water problem created by some busy beavers……give them a bit to work out a reroute. Another big reroute occurs south of Bridgewater where traffic will be rerouted off the railbed due to logging and will be traveling to well north of Mars Hill…..that section is now marked and groomed .    From  Mars Hill north  83 is in good shape but watch for logging as you enter Madawaska.

 !ITS 81   This route is taking shape. Heading west Mars Hill opened their section between 83 and Squa Pan today (Friday) however Walker Siding is working on a reroute and has not started grooming yet.   Heading north out of Mars Hill 81 is open through to Easton and Ft Fairfield however Limestone has not been out.  North of Limestone, Caswell, Van Buren, Grand Isle and Madawaska have all opened their sections however markings may be a bit lean but should be out by th end of the weekend.

 ITS 92   Is groomed and open from Madawaska , Frenchville, Ft Kent, St Francis to Allagash where it ends, however there is a nice trail that loops Glazier Lake that is open and groomed.

 ITS 90   Open for business as Ft Fairfield , Caribou and Portage have all been out.  But watch for wildlife in all areas as moose are still wandering.

 !ITS 88 Remember there is a reroute on the section in Ft Fairfield so watch for signage.   Moving east the trail has been groomed to Ashland but there is no access yet from Ashland on 85 north due to a reroute and 85 south from Ashland is still being prepped.   ITS 105 is open and groomed to get the loop ride in.

 !ITS 86   Meduxneakeg Ramblers were opening and grooming on their end to the vicinity of St Croix however it will be a week or two before passage will be available to the 85 intersection due to logging and reroutes.

 ITS 105   is opened an groomed to the ITS 81 intersection.  Check locally south of that area.

 !ITS 120  is groomed to Pushneer Pond from ITS 85 however they are working out a reroute on the Debouille end so b patient and please stay clear in that area due to logging.

 Rt 100     has been rerouted however due to logging it will be closed off for a while so there is no access to 89 nor 94 from Caswell but it is open east to 81 from Caswell along with 100A

 Rt 89  between ITS 83/90 in Caribou north to Rt 94 is not open yet

 Rt 94 Van Buren is working to run on the bank through a logging op so watch for signs and PLEASE stay off the road.

 Daigle and Soldier Pond have their systems open

 Rt 73B between Ft Kent and Daigle is closed.


Kathy Mazzuchelli

About Kathy Mazzuchelli

Kathy Mazzuchelli is superintendant of the Caribou Parks and Recreation Department where she has worked for 38 years. An avid snowmobiler, Mazzuchelli’s first sled was a 1968 Polaris Mustang back in the days when groomed trails were done with snowmobiles, bedsprings and some pretty feisty folks.