Today's Ski With Sue

Skiing the River Link Trail

Fri, 01/04/2013 - 10:30am

While School House Pond Trail on Barter’s Island is perfect for a short ski on a busy day, the River Link Trail in Edgecomb offers everything a coastal cross country skier could want. One of the Boothbay Region Land Trust’s lesser-traveled destinations, this jewel offers beautiful wide trails in the midst of serene woodlands. It also offers access to Schmid and Dodge Point Preserves, with miles of skiing opportunities.

I walked this trail for the first time In October and was surprised by the almost deep woods feeling possible here. Being me, even on a beautiful autumn day, I couldn’t help thinking, “This would be great to ski.”  

On that fall day, we walked from McKay Road to Dodge Point - a five mile trek - and only ran into one other couple. That is something that rarely happens at Ovens Mouth or Porter Preserve, my more frequent haunts, on an autumn weekend. Visitors to coastal Maine seeking ocean vistas - something the Land Trust delivers - are abundant on these well-traveled trails. The River Link trail may not be as popular as its ocean-edged partners and, for me, that is one of its allures. 

According to the Land Trust’s website, the River LInk Trail, established in 2003, is a “network of land tracts and partnerships” that provides a wildlife and hiking corridor linking the Damariscotta and Sheepscot Rivers. This 1,500 acre protected woodland exists because of  the hard work and vision of the Land Trust, Damariscotta River Association, Sheepscot Valley Association, Schmid Preserve and countless volunteers, local towns, state agencies and private and grant funding. It is a quiet treasure running down the core of the peninsula. 

On both visits, we accessed the River Link trail from the McKay Road kiosk and headed north. From here the trail traverses the 765 acre Schmid Preserve and continues north and east through woodlands to meet the 500 acre Dodge Point preserve. The trail is rolling in spots but never steep. 

Driving up Route 27 mid-afternoon on Thursday, Jan. 4, the snow on the sides of the road looked crusty and dirty. I wondered if the previous day’s ski memory had been inflated overnight. But when we arrived at the little kiosk on McKay Road, the snow was bright, clean and untracked.  Quickly donning our skies, the still virgin snow offered little resistance and setting tracks was a breeze. 

From the parking lot, the narrow trail quickly opens up to a wider, tree-lined corridor. There is a slight uphill grade from the parking lot and the trail is well-marked with River-Link signs along the way. We stopped from time to time to take in the pervasive quiet, the coyote and deer tracks and the sunlight filtering through the conifers. 

Further along the trail there are side-trail options into Schmid Preserve and other trails to the east. A person with more time or more familiar with the area would undoubtedly find good skiing along these trails as well. We stuck to River Link and when it was time to turn back found the speed of the slight downhill exhilarating.

I had planned to head to Hidden Valley Nature Center in Jefferson today but with skiing this good, why would anyone leave the peninsula? There is still a lot more trail to cover in Edgecomb. 

While others may be dreaming of summer, I have my fingers crossed for more snow and cold.

Sue Mello can be reached at 844-4629 or