Winter Trail Grooming

Have you ever wondered who is out there grooming the trails?

We would like to introduce you to 3 amazing people that keep our trails in top shape. 

Seth is our year-round Operations Manager. He is certified in heavy equipment and chainsaw operations, and has past experience running full-sized snowplows for City of Westbrook. He will take a day grooming the trails over the office anytime.

Mike is a former Hut Manager, current summer caretaker at Flagstaff Hut, and Assistant Operations. Since he doesn't like sitting still, he decided to add on grooming to his plate!

Tyler has actively been grooming the remote area from the Halfway Yurt to above Flagstaff Lake Hut for years. He resides in the area, and at home outside in the wilderness.

We try to report our trail conditions daily through photos, reposts, and more on Instagram and Facebook. Weekly writeups may be found on the trail conditions page of our website.

Knowing the Lingo

With unpredictable weather in Maine, it helps to know what you have to look forward to on your way to the huts. We thought it would be fun to breakdown terms our Groomers use on the their reports. It is a science after all. 

Frozen Granular: Not to be confused with ‘icy’. Conditions are created by freeze/thaw cycles or grooming, and the result is a forgiving surface made up of tiny snow chunks. Frozen granular is pretty typical in New England, and is great for skiing and fat biking. It does make for fast skiing, so beginners should use caution on descents. Hiking is recommended over snowshoeing.

Packed Powder: Not too fluffy, not too hard. When the most recent snowfall has settled into the base naturally or by groomers or other trail users, and temperatures have been stable, we get packed powder. It’s perfect for skiing, good for fat biking and snowshoeing. Hiking is not recommended.

Fresh Powder: When we’ve gotten fresh, light snow and temperatures have stayed cold, you get powder. This is perfect for skiing and snowshoeing. Fat biking and hiking may be good if accumulation is less than 2-3 inches and the base is firm.

Corn: Typical of spring conditions in New England, corn snow is the result of overnight freezing temps that warm up on sunny days, resulting in large, loose granules. It’s great for skiing- very forgiving and not too fast. Snowshoeing is usually decent. Fat biking is good if the base is very firm. 

Boilerplate: When a section of trail is ungroomed after rain and cold, the result is boilerplate, i.e., ice. It’s possible to hike with micro-spikes and okay for experienced fat bikers with studded tires. Skiing and snowshoeing are not recommended.

Machine Groomed/Corduroy: Freshly groomed and tracked trail that looks like corduroy; perfect for skiing and fat biking. Snowshoeing is fine, but hiking is not recommended as it will damage the surface for other users. 

Hard Packed: When the most recent snowfall has settled into the base and it's firm from wind or grooming. Conditions are perfect for fat biking. Nordic skiing is fast and fun, but beginners should be cautious, especially on steep descents. Hiking is decent.

Variable: A little of everything. Sometimes significant temperature changes occur throughout the day, and the trail surface will vary widely, even over a short distance. Variable conditions are usually fine for skiing and snowshoeing, but beginners should be cautious. Fat bikers and hikers should try to stay on firm sections of trail.

Spring Conditions: Just like variable conditions, but with more signs of spring! There may be bare spots, especially in open areas or near water. Shaded sections of trail can be icy, and snow in sunny sections can be heavy and wet.

At Maine Huts & Trails, we don’t believe in bad weather. When you have the right gear and a good attitude, every day is a new opportunity for adventure. 

If you see Seth, Mike or Tyler out on the trail, give them a big wave. They are always happy to see people enjoying their work. 

Be safe, be smart, and have fun out there!