November 9, 2018 | Nate Berger | Leave a comment For some, winter might sound sad and depressing. But for many year-round MDI residents, this is exciting, in part because it means ice skating. MDI just recently got its first traditional ice rink. Tremont built an ice rink in early 2018 and it is maintained by the Tremont Recreation Board. Updates on the rink can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1903447556333938/ Otherwise, skating on MDI takes place outside. Here is everywhere you can go ice skating, in one spot. Where To Skate Chris’s Pond is a local favorite. In Southwest Harbor, it is on back roads and might be a little hard to find if you don’t know the territory (it’s accessed by Chris’s Lane off of Ocean Way). But the pond is kept in good condition by locals who groom it themselves. It is a popular spot for families. In addition, you are likely to see a hockey game there. This is quintessential idyllic and locals consider this a hot spot in the heart of a cold winter. Somes Pond is simply beautiful. It is off of Oak Hill Road in Somesville. It is not maintained by any person or group, so you really have it hit it at the right time when the weather is good. You can skate really far and wind up frozen streams. There are great acoustics–the ice makes great sounds when it is nice and thick. Even when there is a hockey game here or other activity, it is peaceful because it is so big. Long Pond is another hit-or-miss skating venue. Like Somes Pond, it is not kept up officially and very much weather-pending. It’s the place locals call “Pond Bend.” A popular spot year-round, it is where everyone swims in the summer and visitors rent canoes or kayaks. When the conditions allow, everyone gathers for a pick-up hockey game. This pond is the largest on MDI. It is four miles long and covers almost 900 acres, great for maximum skating. Little Long Pond is your choice if you prefer something smaller than Long Pond. With a maximum depth of 5 feet, Little Long Pond is very shallow. But you cannot skate on most parts of the lake unless the weather is perfect because it is not officially maintained. However, the section nearest to the parking lot is cleared by a local lobsterman with a makeshift Zamboni he made from a modified tractor. One winter when the snow was really deep, he groomed it with paths so you could skate along a sort of maze in the snow. Hockey is played there sometimes when there is less snow. One aspect that is enjoyed by locals on Little Long Pond is that, because of its length, it can give the feeling that instead of skating circles, you are skating on a trail–that is, you have the sense that you are going some place. In addition, you are are very close to the ocean with amazing views. Hamilton Pond is very shallow, with a maximum depth of 10 feet. As such, it freezes pretty quickly. It’s a good barometer for how ice skating conditions may be on the island in general. If Hamilton Pond is not frozen, it is likely that most of the other locations will not be frozen either. So it’s one of the places where you tend to check out as your driving down Route 3 by Norway Drive (it’s about halfway between downtown Bar Harbor and the head of the island) to see what the conditions are like. Beaver Pond has some similarities to Hamilton Pond in that is shallow and freezes quickly. It is a good place to skate if it is cold winter without much snow. It is located across from Eagle Lake. Eagle Lake is a little deeper and you must be sure the ice is nice and thick. As it is very big and wide it can get really windy, so you’ll want to dress appropriately. The parking for Eagle Lake is plowed so it is really accessible in that sense. People play hockey games on the lake. Around the lake, you’ll see people skiing on cross country trails. Those trails are groomed by local volunteers. You can get more information on the grooming of those trails here: https://friendsofacadia.org/cross-country-skiing-acadia/ Northeast Creek has different sections and the distinctions are important. The upper section of Northeast Creek (the southeast corner of the intersection of Norway Drive and Crooked Road) is often very skatable and beautiful as Northeast Creek offers a nice, marshy experience. One must be cautious of the skating in the lower sections of the creek though with ice that may not be as solid and dependable. The Bowl is many locals’ favorite. It is what one might call a secret skating spot of sorts because at 415 feet it is not the most accessible (Sargent Mountain Pond is the only body of water on MDI at a higher altitude). Located on Champlain Mountain, it is a beautiful hike up to The Bowl. It is a popular swimming spot in the summer, and a beautiful skating place in the winter. But there must be a mix of perfect conditions to skate. Besides needing to be cold enough to be frozen and needing to not have too much snow, the rocks and path on the way up the mountain must be dry to avoid slipping and help ensure a safe hike up the mountain. When all is right, you can have a beautiful, safe hike up the mountain with your skates and enjoy picturesque moments skating on a mountain with an ocean view. How cool is that? Glen Mary is a local Bar Harbor, in-town rink and maintained by the Town of Bar Harbor. It’s the Glen Mary swimming pool in the summer and in the winter, it’s a groomed ice rink. It is a great place to take little kids. It is also a place people choose to go when they can’t get out of town because of lack of transportation or road conditions are too poor to leave town. You can find more information about Glen Mary here: https://www.barharbormaine.gov/293/Athletic-Recreational-Facilities The Tarn is going on the road going towards Otter Creek from Bar Harbor and just past Jackson Lab. The base of Dorr Mountain is on your right. Historically the Tarn was known as an ice skating venue, but now that the bushes have grown taller it is more difficult to skate there. Keep it in mind though if the grooming changes, it may be a good place to skate again in the future. But for now, there are better places to go. The Bog below the Precipice is another cool place for skating on MDI locals will frequent from time to time. Echo Lake is another location where locals sometimes skate, but not often. Sieur de Monts and The Great Meadow area–you can’t typically skate there. But once in a generation you have the opportunity. That once-in-a-generation moment came in early 2018 when it flooded and people ice skated there. The Great Meadow looked like a pond as even the boardwalk flooded and people skated through Jesup Trail, Sieur de Monts, and The Great Meadow. It was otherworldly for locals to be able to skate through the birch trees in a very dreamy atmosphere. More here: https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/news/local/now/mainers-turn-frozen-acadia-national-park-trails-into-ice-skating-rink/97-511880542 Some years College of the Atlantic puts up a seasonal ice skating rink and typically members of the community are invited to join in. This has not happened in recent years, however, typically you can see the rink from Route 3 if it is up. Skating Tips Though Maine is known for its cold winters, it would be a mistake to think that means you can ice skate throughout most of the winter. That is unfortunately not the case. The conditions have to be right. Mainly, the ice has to be thick enough combined with not too much snow. A week of temperatures in the teens (or below) is a good thing. If you see ice shacks on the lake then it is a good sign that you are probably safe. However, we recommend you take every possible precaution. Here is a good blog to read about ice thickness and ice skating: https://www.outsideonline.com/1770296/ice-thick-enough-skate . You may also want to check-in with the State of Maine Ice Fishing site as they may post relevant news: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/news-events/ Because there can be a surprisingly few amount of optimal skating days at your favorite locations, locals are known to keep their ice skates in their vehicles during the winter. That way, if they see or hear that it is a good time for skating, they can strap on their skates without losing time to go home, get the skates, and get back to the location (which could be the last of your precious few sunlight hours in the winter). And when there is a good skating day on the island, word spreads pretty quickly. Since many of these spots don’t have things like benches to put on skates (or walls you can ram into if you are going too fast) you might want to bring your own folding chair, which can be used for putting on skates or as a sort of ‘walker’ if you are uneasy on your feet. Don’t Own Skates? No problem. Cadillac Mountain Sports rents skates out in the winter time (they have full and half day rates). They get new skates often, so you will be using good equipment and at the end of the season, you can sometimes buy used skates at a discount for next year’s skating. Enjoy the winter on Mount Desert Island by embracing skating! We sure will.