XC Ski & Brews: Bethel’s Ski Trails and Steam Mill Brewing
Situated along the placid Androscoggin River and surrounded by rugged peaks, Bethel is often referred to as “Maine’s most beautiful mountain village”— and it’s easy to understand why. Outdoor enthusiasts certainly know Bethel as a year-round hub for recreation: hiking, paddling, and mountain biking in the summer to downhill skiing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in the winter.
Bethel sports two cross-country ski centers with miles of wonderfully groomed and tracked trails for classic and skate skiing and plenty of outstanding scenery to match.
Carter’s XC Ski Center is home to 55 kilometers of cross-country ski trails on 200 acres sandwiched between Farwell Mountain and the Androscoggin River. Family-owned and operated since 1991, Carter’s features lovely skiing over the open fields and through the tall white pines of the intervale or on the slopes of the hardwood hillside. The trails are open for snowshoeing and fat biking, too.
At the historic Bethel Inn Resort in the center of town, Inland Woods + Trails’ Bethel Village Trail System features 24 kilometers of cross-country ski trails and another nine kilometers dedicated to fat biking and snowshoeing. The pretty trails wind through open grounds of the Bethel Country Club and along the wooded valley of Mill Brook. Kick and glide to the top of Grover’s Grind for nice mountain views.
And when you’ve enjoyed your share of fun and exercise on the snowy tracks, there are refreshing craft beer and delish eats at a wildly popular brewery close by for après-ski.
Steam Mill Brewing takes its name from the location of an old steam mill in the mid-1900s and the neighborhood where friends Scott Fraser and Brent Angevine began homebrewing after college. Years later in 2018, when the pair of locals opened their brewery and taproom in downtown Bethel, it was the realization of a long-held dream.
Using locally sourced ingredients, Steam Mill produces a great lineup of brews with names inspired by local landmarks, such as the C-Surplus IPA, Alder River Red, and Intervale Ale. Last year, having outgrown its original space, the brewery moved to a larger venue on the road into Sunday River Ski Resort. The warm and spacious new brewpub has a large bar, beer garden, elevated pub fare, and, of course, the same great beer.
Carter’s X-C Ski Center: cartersxcski.com
Inland Woods + Trails: woodsandtrails.org
Steam Mill Brewing: steammillbrew.com
Story and photos: Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island. Carey is an avid X-C skier and beer drinker and the author of the new book, Beer Hiking New England (available February 2023)