Dogsledding in the 100-Mile Wilderness

November 28, 2011

Hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing are classic recreational draws to Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness region. Winter visitors may also want to add dogsledding to their To Do lists. Don’t expect an easy ride through the woods, though. “You’re part of the team,” says sled dog guide Stephen Madera. “You don’t come to sit in the sled. You come to be on the back mushing.”

Madera’s Song in the Woods is one of several local companies that lead sled dog trips. He takes many of his clients out on AMC’s land. The organization’s Medawisla, Little Lyford, and Gorman Chairback lodges, along with independently owned West Branch Pond Camps, are situated approximately a half-day’s ride apart. Day-trippers can stop at one of the lodges for hot drinks and lunch, while overnight guests can travel from lodge to lodge by sled.

“One of the biggest attractions for me is that AMC has a non-motorized zone, and I can go there and feel safe,” Madera says. In addition to getting away from auto and snowmobile traffic, each trail he travels has its own unique highlights, he says: a special view or interesting terrain.

The growing trail network provides mushers with options—open outlooks on nice days and sheltered forest trails to hide from the winter’s wind. “It’s a very special place,” Madera says. “There’s an overlook where you get to see Katahdin in the distance. I never get tired of coming up to that place.”

On February 4, 2012, the trails will transform into a racecourse. The 7th annual 100-Mile Wilderness Sled Dog Race will traverse 60 miles of AMC’s property. From the starting line in Greenville, mushers race their teams over Moosehead Lake and into the woods. The 100-mile event travels as far north as Medawisla Lodge and Cabins, where teams reverse course and head back to Greenville. Racers, volunteers, and spectators can enjoy the hospitality of the lodges located along the course, as well as festivities near the start/finish line at the Greenville School Grounds.

Info: AMC Maine Wilderness Lodges; AMC guide to winter sports in Maine; 100-Mile Wilderness Race

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Marc Chalufour

Marc Chalufour, a former senior editor of AMC Outdoors, contributes to the trail-running blog Running Wild.