Dog lover's guide to Maine slopes

Dog Lover’s Guide to Maine Slopes

Text Anna Burke.

More and more skiers head for the slopes these days with dogs in tow, leaving the rest of us wondering how they do it. Their secret is simple: careful planning. Here at Activity Maine, we have discovered the formula for a successful, dog inclusive ski vacation.

Step One: Choose a Ski Resort

Maine is brimming with ski resorts. If you are a Mainer, you probably already have a few favorites. Out-of-staters get to choose from some of the best slopes on the East Coast. Here are a few of Maine’s most popular (and dog-friendly) mountains.

The Bethel area boasts two alpine ski resorts: Sunday River and Mt Abram. Sunday River maintains 135 trails and nearby Mt. Abram 44. If this is not enough incentive, Bethel is also home to Maine’s skijoring scene. Skijoring is the perfect sport for avid skiers and their dogs. With the help of a special harness and a pair of cross-country skis, you and your dog can ski together. Check out New England Dog Sledding and the Down East Sled Dog Club for skijoring lessons and events while you are in the Bethel area.

Sugarloaf USA, the East Coast’s largest single ski mountain, offers skiers and snowboarders over 154 trails, plus snowfields and glades. With 1,056 skiable acres, not to mention a few truly delicious dining options, it is no wonder the resort ranks among Maine’s top ski destinations. The mountain also maintains a Dog Trail just for pets and their owners.

Saddleback Ski Area’s claim to fame is the mountain’s base elevation, which is higher than any other ski area in New England. The breathtaking views and the resort’s 66 trails provide skiers with a classic skiing experience and exciting backcountry opportunities in their Casablanca Glades and Chutes. Nearby Rangeley Lakes and Trails Center offers Nordic skiing, with a designated skijoring trail and a dog loop.

Skiers who want to enjoy both snow and the Maine coast can ‘ski the sea’ at the Camden Snow Bowl. The resort’s 12 trails, plus the pet-friendly Hosmer Trail, offer an affordable family friendly skiing experience. While there, families also enjoy sledding down the resort’s 400′ toboggan chute, snow tubing, and ice skating on the pond.

Dog Lover's Guide to Maine Slopes. Photo: Craig Angevine, Yeah Bud! Photography.

Champ waiting and ready to go. Photo: Craig Angevine, Yeah Bud! Photography.

Step Two: Pet-Friendly Lodging

Planning a ski vacation with Fido takes a little more thought than hitting the road with a weekend ski pass. You and your pooch need a pet-friendly hotel where you can relax after a long day with a cup of hot cocoa and a new toy from one of Maine’s many locally owned pet stores.

Maine boasts a large number of dog-friendly hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts. This is not surprising, considering the state’s endless outdoor opportunities for dog lovers. Dog-oriented travel sites are great resources for finding pet-friendly hotels near your ski destination. Be sure to call ahead and ask about any pet restrictions or additional fees before booking your reservation.

Step Three: Doggy Daycare

You also need to find Rover something to do while you ski. Even resorts with dog-friendly trails won’t allow your pooch on the ski lift. Leaving your pet in your room is not an option either. Hotels and B&Bs usually have strict policies about unattended pets. This places pet owners in a difficult position.

Barker Brook Kennels, located near Sunday River Ski Resort in Bethel, offers pet owners an easy solution to this dilemma. With their indoor and outdoor play yards and experienced staff, Barker Brook provides daycare and boarding facilities for your dog while you enjoy the numerous ski opportunities in the Bethel area. Your pooch will love an opportunity to romp and run with other dogs in their carefully supervised dog daycare center, and all the fun is sure to have him tuckered out by the end of the day.

Barker Brook Kennels is not alone. There are dog daycare and boarding facilities located across Maine. For the price of boarding your dog at home or paying for a dog sitter, your dog could join the fun. Just make sure you call ahead to make a reservation for your pet, as daycare centers fill up quickly.

Bringing your dog on vacation has never been easier. With a growing number of dog daycare centers, pet-friendly hotels and B&Bs, you might never need to leave your dog behind again.

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