You don’t have to go far into the backcountry to find beautiful cross-country ski trails. Orono is located just north of Bangor, and is home to the University of Maine flagship campus. Read on to learn more about the trails at UMaine’s DeMeritt Forest, or search for more local trails maintained by the Orono Land Trust.

Hit the Cross-Country Ski Trails

This swath of land that is the DeMeritt Forest is located behind the New Balance Student Recreation Center, and there’s plenty of parking. It was named in 1971 for Dwight B. DeMeritt to recognize his work in procuring the land for UMaine. It plays a key role in research for students and is great for joggers, walkers, cyclists, and cross-country skiers.

You can access the trails several ways, but I suggest starting by the New Balance Student Rec Center Parking Lot or by the trail entrance on the Witter Farm Road. The cross-country ski trails are easy to traverse and there are maps posted frequently that will help you navigate. The University of Maine Student Recreation Center maintains these trails, so be sure to be conscientious visitors during your stay. Hundreds of dedicated volunteers maintain the majority of Maine’s trail systems. It’s important to remember to be respectful so we all can continue to use the trails in the future.

My friend Jess and I spent about an hour cross-country skiing through the woods. Deer can frequently be spotted in the DeMeritt Forest, but all we saw on our visit were birds and other skiers out enjoying the sunny winter day.

Hit the Pub

After our ski, Jess and I headed out to Orono Brewing Company at 61 Margin Street for lunch and a pint of beer. Orono has no shortage of breweries, but we had a hankering for some tater tot poutine and blistered Brussels sprouts. The roasted garlic cheese dip is another one of my favorites. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with the food, beer, or cider here. And there’s a ping pong table.

Other local breweries include Marsh Island Brewing and Black Bear Brewing Company. And Orono has a handful of wonderful restaurants right downtown. Strap on your skis and explore Orono’s trails…and her beer.

Story and photos by Melanie Brooks