Three area Nordic ski centers to offer combined pass
Beginning this winter, cross-country skiers will be able to buy a single pass that will allow them to hit the trails at three Bethel-area ski centers.
Combined season- and day-passes will be available for Carter's Cross Country Ski Center, the Bethel Nordic Ski Center at the Bethel Inn and the Outdoor Center at Sunday River.
The arrangement was established through a new nonprofit known as the Outdoor Center.
One of the organizers is Mike Cooper, who for the past decade has had the contract to operate the Bethel Inn Center.
The cooperative effort began last spring, he said, when area skiers learned that Sunday River Ski Resort did not plan to continue leasing the Sunday River Inn Ski Center. Cooper and others wanted to find a way to keep the trails operating.
“We saw it as an asset,” he said last week.
The Outdoor Center is now selling memberships to help fund the continued operation for this year. Memberships range from $35 (“Friend”) to $750 (“Gold,” which includes a family season pass). Cooper said he and others are also loaning personal funds to help the cause for this year.
The inn itself has been leased to Duane Bond of Newry, according to owner Steve Wight. The Outdoor Center is subleasing the ski operation from Bond, Wight said.
An interim Board of Directors, of which Cooper is a member, is overseeing the Outdoor Center organization. Other directors include Wade Kavanaugh, Tracyn Thayer, Carlie Casey and Sarah Weafer.
The three-center ski pass is known as a Bethel Pass. Individual season passes cost $160, and a family season pass $330.
“I’m excited that someone can walk into town and buy a ticket and ski anywhere,” said Cooper.
He said the joint pass offer is similar to ones among ski areas in the Mt. Washington Valley region of New Hampshire.
David and Anne Carter, owners of Carter’s Cross-Country Ski Center, said the pass will also be good at their Oxford ski center.
“This is a great way to attract more people, and get them skiing at all three places,” said Anne. “We all offer unique things in our trail systems. It’s a good thing to join forces.”
The Outdoor Center will host its first event, a ski leader workshop by Lauren Jacobs of Health Hometowns, on Dec. 16.
Down the road, the Outdoor Center may work cooperatively with the group working to bring recreational trails to Bethel’s new Bingham Forest, but for the immediate future the best plan is likely to work as two separate groups, Cooper said.
“We all have our hands full with what we’re doing now,” he said.
For more information on the Outdoor Center and passes go to www.caribourecreation.com/#!the-outdoor-center-membership.