If you’re looking for a way to unplug the kids and enjoy a family vacation in New England — without breaking the bank — Appalachian Mountain Club Lodges and Maine Huts & Trails offer plenty of outdoor fun with a hefty dose of nature thrown in.
In winter, for example, after a day of exploring the many snowy trails in Maine by snowshoe or cross-country skis, curl up in front of a fireplace in a cozy cabin. AMC’s Maine Wilderness Lodges, located in the heart of 100 miles of Wilderness Conservation Lands, offer rustic charm without shortchanging families on homey comforts, and in winter you can take advantage of more than 80 miles of groomed ski trails.
Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins, one of AMC’s lodges on 66,000 acres in central Maine’s Moosehead Lake region, for example, has welcomed visitors for more than 140 years with cross-country skiing right out the front door, fishing in Pleasant River and hiking on Indian Mountain.
The lodge is accessible by car in summer and fall and via ski or dogsled in winter. You can choose from nine private cabins that sleep from one to six in a combination of double and bunk beds. Cabins feature a porch, a woodstove and gas lamps for year-round use, as well as cold running water during the summer and fall. Or opt for a shared, co-ed bunkhouse that can accommodate 12 guests.
There is a shared central bathhouse — we did say rustic — but it offers hot showers year-round and a wood-heated sauna in winter. Best of all, up to two well-behaved pooches can stay with their human companions in a private cabin for $10 per night.
Rates, which include lodging for four in a private cabin, breakfast, a packed lunch and dinner, run $142 per adult and $52 for kids in January.
Another option for off-the-grid accommodations is Maine Huts & Trails, also located along the ski/hiking trail system. There are four huts in all, each designed by architects and offering vaulted ceilings, leather furniture, woodstoves and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Amenities include hot showers, toilets, cozy bunk rooms and areas dedicated to drying your gear. Meals are locally sourced and whipped up in a solar- or hydro-powered commercial kitchen, and clean, modern bathrooms feature hot showers and composting toilets.
Rates, which include three meals a day, are $96 per adult, $48 for kids.