A variety of communities and outdoor organizations team up every February to offer an amazing Great Maine Outdoor Weekend of events. There are hundreds of ways to embrace the winter, and the weekend rounds up lots of experts to lead programs to teach folks of all ages something new. Here are six suggestions to get educated and socialize outside (most are dog-friendly too!). For a full schedule of Great Maine Outdoor Weekend happenings visit: greatmaineoutdoorweekend.org/events
9 a.m. Saturday, Bog Road, West Bethel, free. matlt.org/news-events
Take in some excellent views atop Caribou Mountain in the White Mountain National Forest lead by folks from the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust. This is a moderate hike of 3.1 miles to the summit. The meet-up parking lot is in front of Pooh Corner Farm on Bog Road, off Route 2 in Bethel (don’t try to take the Route 113 through Evans Notch – this outing starts on the east side of the mountain). Dogs are welcome. For an update on trail conditions and equipment needed (traction aids or snowshoes), contact email@example.com or 808-2073.
9 a.m. Saturday, Otter Pond, Sebago Lake Land Reserve, Standish, free. bit.ly/1Q5CCrw
Hosted by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Portland Water District, experts will teach you (kids and adults!) how to use ice fishing traps on the Otter Ponds in Standish. All equipment is free (no fishing license required) to catch your first fish through a hole in the ice. Dogs should be left at home for this one. Registration required: bit.ly/1Q5CCrw
9:30 a.m. Saturday, Burnt Meadow Mountains, Sewall Day Road, Brownfield, free. usvlt.org
Hike along the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust’s King/Hayes Easement for great views of the Burnt Meadow Mountains. Along with land trust staff and the property owners, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Nels Liljedahl will lead the group to breathtaking views, a lookout tower and a mysterious old stone structure. Take Route 160 south just before the Porter Town Line. Sewall Day Road will be on the right. Take that road to a circle at the end that goes around a pond. Park along this circle. Four wheel drive cars recommended. Dogs are welcome on a leash. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-356-9683
10 a.m. Saturday, park at the Great Falls Elementary School, Justice Way (off Rte. 237), Gorham, free. prlt.org
Join the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust to explore for animal tracks while snowshoeing on their new 1-mile nature loop trail at Hawkes Preserve. Led by master naturalist, Karen Herold and Presumpscot Regional Land Trust executive director, Rachelle Curran Apse, learn to identify the wild animals living in the forest and along the Presumpscot River by following snow tracks. Space is limited and reservations are required, contact email@example.com.
1:30 p.m. Saturday, Pondicherry Park, Depot Street parking lot (behind Magic Lantern Theater), Bridgeton, free. loonecholandtrust.org
Maine master naturalist Leigh Hayes will lead hikers through the park and offer tips on tree identification, animal tracking and local history. Snowshoes or traction devices can be used on these easy 3 miles of trails. Meet at the kiosk in the municipal parking lot on Depot Street by the Dunning Memorial Bridge. After the hike, trekkers are welcome at the Depot Street Tap House for free cookies and hot drinks. Dogs are welcome on a leash. No registration required.
All day, Saturday, Mount Agamenticus, Mountain Road, York, free. agamenticus.org
This is a self-guided Story Walk program featuring a children’s story to encourage outdoor exploration with kids. And you get to read a good book along the way. Pieces of the story, “The Snowy Day” by Anna Melbourne and illustrated by Elena Temporin, will be placed along the trail. To begin your storytelling hike, start at the base parking lot (where Mountain Road meets Ring Trail) and follow the pages along the western side of the Ring Trail (left at first fork) to Witch Hazel Trail and finish near the summit. Dogs are welcome on a leash. Find a trail map at agamenticus.org.