While spring is in the air (yay!), my thoughts are still with the winter wonderland we recently submerged ourselves in at Maine Huts and Trails, near Maine’s western mountains. For now, the four-season system contains 30 miles of trails and two full-service off-the-grid lodges, or “huts.” At some point, it hopes to grow to a dozen lodges covering 180 miles. You can go to one at a time, or hike or ski between them. And, yes, the ski trail is groomed.
I learned about it last year, when one of my professional organizations, the Society of American Travel Writers, gave Maine Huts a Phoenix Award for outstanding conservation efforts. As an awards judge, I read detailed information about the environmental practices, including solar energy, geothermal heating, and composting toilets (love those!). I couldn’t wait to see it for myself.
Wessel and I were there the last two days of February for a Washington Post travel story, so I’ll save the details for that. We aren’t strong skiers, so decided to stay at one hut and explore around there instead of attempting to ski 10 miles to the other hut. We chose Flagstaff Lake Hut over Poplar Stream Falls Hut because it’s a flat area. For ski weenies like us (especially me), the cross-country skiing from that lodge was non-life-threatening and sublime.
The hardest part of the weekend was the hour-long schlep in from the car on snowshoes, carrying loaded backpacks with our skis and poles strapped on the back. Agony. Most skiers just ski the 1.7 miles in from the parking lot, but I would have ended up like a turtle on my back, yelling at Wessel to please roll me over and set me upright again.
We were lucky to have nice temps (high 30s!) with fresh snow both nights, so the mornings before the meltdown were transformative. The world was all white, with snow weighing down the branches and covering the ground. We had a blast skiing on the gentle trail that runs along the lake, which, in the summer, you can swim in. Closer to the lodge, we snowshoed out to a piece of land jutting into the lake. Dunes of wind-swept snow rose along the banks and a white backdrop shone as far as the eye could see. Sublime.
The cost is about $75 a person per night for a private room and a yummy breakfast and dinner. As of this winter, the huts can also serve beer and wine. Woo-hoo! The rooms range from three beds to family size and are pretty stark, but staying inside isn’t the point here. While I think anytime but mud season or black-fly season would be a draw, if you can come when there’s snow, you will be enchanted. That’s a promise.