Snowshoeing is the fastest growing winter activity. The reasons why are many:
- new style snowshoes are easier to use
- very inexpensive
- provide access to anywhere in the back country
- you decide your level of exertion
- less dependent on snow conditions
If all you remember about snowshoeing is trudging on old wood style snowshoes with 20 pounds of snow lifting with each step, then you need to give the new snowshoes a try. New snowshoes are made of lightweight aluminum and plastic and minimize the amount of snow that falls on top of them. They also usually include ‘crampons’ which are metal teeth that give you exceptional traction.
The Harold Libbey, Lynx, Ghost and Outback trails provide the best snowshoe experiences on the hill. These trails are built for hiking and snowshoeing and give you access to a wide variety of ecosystems and terrain. You may also use a short section of the Moose Odyssey Trail that is shared with the Lynx Trail. While on this section stay single file on the far side of the trail and don’t step on any ‘classic tracks’ that may be in the trail.
Winter Trail is a 1/2 mile connector trail between the Ghost and Harold Libbey Trail. It goes through a hemlock grove and provides options for making a loop hike. Watch for the bright green survey tape that marks the trail.
There are also 14 miles of snowmobile trails in the Libby Hill area. You may snowshoe these as well but be sure to step off the trail when snowmobiles approach.
You can also ‘bushwhack’ and explore the woods anywhere you wish to explore in winter. However, remember to that going off trail requires that you have a compass, map and be familiar with winter hiking. Should you become disoriented on a hike, remember, heading east will always eventually get you to a road or the school. Also be cautious of wet areas/thin ice areas on the lowlands around Thayer brook. Be sure you carry water, matches, compass, layers of clothing, map, and a cell phone if you head off trail.
Trails to Avoid – Please stay off groomed cross-country ski trails Moose Odyssey, Deer Run, Turkey Trot and Holmquist Hollow are off-limits to walkers and snowshoers once grooming begins. Using these trails may require hours of repair work from our volunteer groomers. Please see our winter trail rules.
If you just got snowshoes or want to get the ‘hang’ of using snowshoes. Try these trails:
Lynx Trail – this begins at the parking lot by the school and takes you quickly up the hill. It shares a short 500 foot section with the Moose Odyssey then takes you into a beautiful oak forest. You can go off trail along this trail to try your skills with snow shoes.
Ghost Trail – this trail connects the Harold Libbey Trail with Old Libby Hill Road, you can make a 1 mile loop by using a combination of the Lynx, Ghost, and return to the parking lot via Old Libby Hill Road. Keep in mind the old road is a major snowmobile trail so you may need to step off to the side of the trail if needed.
Harold Libbey Trail – do the complete trail or use the connector to make a shorter or longer loop. This trail has the most wildlife near Thayer brook. Be cautious crossing any open water or ice though.
Outback Trail – the major challenge here is crossing Thayer Brook. Three stones get you across the brook which at time can nearly cover these rocks. You may want to remove your snowshoes if you don’t have crampons. Off trail options include following Thayer brook north to the large beaver dams and assorted water falls. You can also follow Thayer brook south from Porcupine rock. After 1/2 mile you will come to a snowmobile trail which allows you to loop back to the middle school. Notice the old stonework dam at the intersection of snowmobile trail and Thayer brook.
Harold Libbey Trail – going off the main trail gives you many options. Check out the sharp descent off the horseback down to Thayer brook. Porcupines inhabit the small stone caves there. You can also continue on the horseback and bushwhack to the Old Libby Hill Road in about 3/4 of a mile. Finally, you can bushwhack the ridges to the east of the trail that are a shortcut back to the Middle School. You can also bushwhack the many dips and rises between the to loops of the trail, including ‘Daniel Libby’s Throne’.
Old Libby Hill Road – you can follow the Old Libby Hill Road all the way to Little Sebago or make a loop using a snowmobile trail to Ramsdell Road. There is a major snowmobile trail Middle School. Once you discover this area you will see many options for exploring the back woods area of Libby Hill Trails. The snowmobile/ATV trails provide a infinite possibilities for making trekking loops. Be sure you have a compass and map. These trails are not well-marked and it is easy to become lost. We also now have a smart phone map which shows you where you are currently located on the trails.