Rangeley Lakes Trails Center, near Rangeley
I dipped my toe into the more than 30 miles of trails at this four-season center (it promises x-c skiing, snowshoeing, and biking) on Thanksgiving day, when the place was closed. It opens for the season full time mid December.
You can do a wonderfully big loop here, staying out all day if you wish. (My map is incomplete.) The trails are groomed for classic and skate skiing, but narrow tracks wind through the labyrinth of wider groomed trails for people on snow shoes and fat bikes. You have to buy a day pass or season ticket to use the trail system.
I found the ski from the hut to Upper Pipeline and Nat’s Alley to be particularly beautiful, with views both of Saddleback and the mountain range to the northwest.
One trail is dedicated to dog walking and ski joring. Maine Trail Finder says the Trails Center is open in the off-season (and free) to hikers and mountain bikers (and dogs), but that quite a few of the trails are boggy. That being said, they do recommend a few trails for summertime.
Directions: The center’s HQ, a yurt, is located at 524 Saddleback Mountain Road, below Saddleback Mountain. To reach Saddleback Mountain Road from downtown Rangeley, take a left off Route 4 onto Dallas Hill Road. When the road splits into two at 2.5 miles, veer right onto Saddleback Mountain Road. The yurt will be on the left in another 2.5 miles.