Sunday, April 20, 2014
From the Maine Woods to the Adirondack Mountains, there are plenty of opportunities to get out on your Nordic skis for an overnight or multiday excursion. You can rough it a little at a rustic bunkhouse, make yourself at home at a full-service backcountry lodge, or tuck into a downy bed and four-course meal at a fine country inn. Here’s a menu of ski-and-stay options.
The Stratton Brook Hut is on the Maine Huts and Trails system – a system that offers four huts and 80 miles of ski trails around the Bigelows. The accommodations are well worth it for any skier.
Photos courtesy of Maine Huts and Trails
With four huts on the Maine Huts and Trails system, skiers are able to travel and string together a 50-mile trip to take in all the huts – which offer shared bunkrooms, home-cooked meals, showers and a lounge area.
The wilderness of Baxter State Park becomes exponentially wilder in wintertime, offering ski trekkers a top-notch backcountry experience. Six bunkhouses – Trout Brook, South Branch Pond, Russell Pond, Nesowadnehunk, Roaring Brook and Chimney Pond – plus cabins at Kidney Pond and Daicey Pond provide comfy accommodations, complete with gas lights, bunks with mattresses, table and chairs, wood and woodstove. Info: www.baxterstateparkauthority.com, 723-5140.
The Maine Huts and Trails system has four backcountry huts and 80 miles of ski trails in and around the Bigelows.
Settle in to one of the remote huts – Stratton Brook, Poplar Falls, Flagstaff Lake or Grand Falls – for an off-the-grid stay complete with shared bunkrooms warmed by radiant heat, a community hall with a dining room serving home-cooked meals, lounge area and woodstove, plus hot showers and composting toilets. String all four huts together for a 50-mile ski trip from Route 27 to Route 201. Info: www.mainehuts.com, 265-2400.
The Maine Wilderness Lodges on the Appalachian Mountain Club’s 66,500 acres in the heart of the 100-Mile Wilderness offers lodging in the Maine sporting camp tradition. Private log cabins at Little Lyford Ponds and Gorman-Chairback on Long Pond feature beds, gas lights and a woodstove. Luxuriate in a hot shower or sauna in the lodge, then enjoy a delicious meal with fellow guests.
Base camp it at one lodge or link the two lodges plus the privately owned West Branch Ponds Camps for a 30-mile, multiday lodge-to-lodge ski adventure. Info: www.outdoors.org, 603-466-2727.
The 100 miles of trails of the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation system span three river valleys in and around the New England village of Jackson. The entire town is dedicated to Nordic skiing and features a red covered bridge, waterfalls, fields and woods, mountain views, a white-steeple church, and a host of cozy inns, and bed and breakfasts. Book a stay and ski to your heart’s content on the myriad trails by day, and sample a different inn or pub for dinner each evening. Or mix it up and ski from inn to inn, having your bags shuttled ahead. Info: www.jacksonxc.org, 603-383-9355.
For a more rustic experience, ski the six miles into AMC’s Zealand Falls Hut perched on the eastern edge of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Bunkroom accommodations are provided, as is full use of the stove, oven and cookware. Skiers must pack in their own food and sleeping bags. A caretaker is on hand evenings to tend the woodstove. Info: www.outdoors.org, 603-466-2727.
The Catamount Trail extends the length of Vermont’s Green Mountains from Canada to Massachusetts. While it’s certainly possible to ski the entire 300 miles, most skiers opt for a shorter section over a weekend or a week. Dozens of country inns line the trail route so you can ski by day and enjoy fine Vermont hospitality by night. There are 24 Nordic ski centers along the trail as well. Make a base camp at an inn or arrange for a supported multiday ski trek between several inns. Info: www.catamounttrail.org, 802-864-5794.
The 37-mile Jackrabbit Ski Trail connects the villages of Saranac Lake and Keene in the heart of the High Peaks Region of the Adirondack Mountains. Along the way the trail passes by Lake Placid and then Mirror Lake in Lake Placid proper, the locale of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Overnight accommodations and dining establishments are many and varied where the trail intersects with civilization. Four Nordic ski centers provide skier services en route. Info: www.jackrabbittrail.org, 518-523-1365.
Carey Kish of Bowdoin is editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Send comments and trip suggestions to: