XC Skiing: A Fun Way to Get Active
February 23rd, 2021
If you spend the colder months wistfully glancing at your camping gear and dreaming of nights close to nature, you’ve been missing out on a winter adventure that encapsulates all the best elements of camping without the fear of frostbite. Explore a plethora of yurts available to rent all across Maine.
Made from a circular-shaped wooden latticework, covered in canvas and typically featuring a woodstove and chimney, the traditional yurt originated from Central Asia, where nomadic groups from Mongolia, Siberia, and Turkey created the structure – then covered it in animal hides – as a hardy yet moveable dwelling to traverse the steppes. The modern iteration can be found tucked away in nature all over Maine, providing an elevated kind of camping experience thanks to its roomy interior and heating capabilities. Many rentals across the state also enjoy proximity to the ocean or a trail network, offering the opportunity for winter walks, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing before you settle into your digs for the night.
Even with a stove and a bed, you’re still just a sheet of canvas away from nature. Many yurt rentals will require you to light and maintain your own woodstove. Therefore, it’s essential that at least one member of your party has a working familiarity with wood-burning stoves. Once the stove is burning efficiently, you should stay cozy inside the structure. Nonetheless, it’s smart to bring your headlamps, camping gear, potable water, and your warmest clothing – even if it’s just so you can step outside and marvel at the brilliance of the night sky in winter.
$250-$265 per night
Perched on a granite outcrop overlooking the winter forest, Birdsong Yurt is a four-season yurt that melds the appeal of the great outdoors with some seriously luxurious amenities. Located in Woodstock and surrounded by mountains, including the far-off lights from Mount Abrams ski slopes, Birdsong is a romantic getaway for any sporty couple in search of winter adventure. The interior is a study in modern-rustic chic, complete with sliding barn doors, sage green kitchen cabinets, and mid-century furniture. “Guests staying at Birdsong yurt in the winter can expect a quiet and cozy stay,” said owner Shari Kilton. “We have a full kitchen and bathroom – so there’s no running out in the cold to an outhouse!” With a pellet stove, a king-sized bed, a television, and WiFi access, Birdsong ensures there’s no sense of “roughing it” for a night. But, that’s not all. Step outside and take your pick whether to admire the panoramic views from the raised deck, fire pit, or – most decadently – the hot tub. After a long day on the slopes of Mount Abram or Sunday River, there’s no sweeter place to return.
Maine Forest Yurts
$150 per night
A family of winter enthusiasts can find all the activities and accommodations they could imagine on the banks of Runaround Pond in Durham. Maine Forest Yurts operates a year-round campground with four large yurts and more than 100 acres of wilderness just waiting for exploration. Pack your cross-country skis and snowshoes and hit the trails or glide across the pond on skates. No matter how you spend your time, the comforts of either Fisher Ridge, Hemlock Ridge, Hideaway, or Zen Den yurts will welcome and warm you after a long day in the crisp winter air. Each yurt comes fully furnished with a kitchen, composting toilet, and woodstove amenities. The simple and spacious interior is laid with pine flooring and furnished with bunk beds, a futon, and a dining table. The setup is dog-friendly, so the entire family can vacation together.
Sugar Ridge Yurt
Hidden Valley, Jefferson
From $96 per night
Tucked away on a ridge in the forested preserve on the banks of Little Dyer Pond, Sugar Ridge Yurt is one of a handful of rustic cabin and tent sites managed by the Hidden Valley Nature Center. A thousand-acre parcel of contiguous forest, Hidden Valley is an important site of environmental education and recreation in Midcoast Maine, hosting student research, sustainable forestry, and avid trail runners. An overnight stay at Sugar Ridge offers a rare chance to immerse yourself in the beauty of this landscape. The yurt is accessed by a half-mile walk or ski along groomed trails through woodland and along waterways. The yurt setup contains four bunk beds, making it the perfect affordable winter escape for a group of friends in search of a quiet night in nature. Just make sure you come prepared: the woodstove is the only heat source and amenities are limited to an outhouse. Those willing to tough it out will be rewarded with a night sky that is free from light pollution and a perfect winter morning waking up among evergreens and the snow.
Frost Mountain Yurts Brownfield
$125 to $140 per night
Frost Mountain owner Scott Moulton describes a stay in his six all-season yurts as “camping at its finest,” allowing you to enjoy the outdoor experience without “lugging in any of the equipment.” Located on 57 acres of wooded hills just south of Fryeburg and a short drive from Mount Washington Valley, Frost Mountain has six pet-friendly yurts tucked away among the trees. Each includes three bunk beds and two pull-out couches, making them well-suited to larger groups. The yurts are well stocked with a woodstove, gas stove and grill, and kitchen utensils should you feel like rustling up a feast, although you’ll need to be comfortable without running water and electricity (gas lamps provided). Once you’re settled, you won’t need your car to access winter activities. Frost Mountain includes a private network of XC ski and snowshoe trails, as well as “great sledding in the field through the apple trees,” according to Moulton. “We’re also directly connected to the international snowmobile trail network that is open to skiers and trekkers for longer loops.” Only one mile down the road you’ll discover the trailhead for Peary Mountain and a panoramic view of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range.
Acadia Yurts & Wellness Center
From $181 to $221 per night
Experience Mount Desert Island from a different perspective. Acadia Yurts combines earthy accommodations with the luxury of a wellness center, featuring onsite massages, a yoga room, an infrared sauna, and even a flotation room! Opt for ultimate comfort with Acadia’s exclusive 30-foot yurt, resplendent with colorful furnishings and generous amenities, including both an enclosed and a lofted bedroom, full kitchen, and bathroom – and perhaps most luxurious, a dishwasher. Alternatively, there are four 24-foot yurt rentals that certainly won’t make you feel like you’re slumming it. Each has room for four people, as well as a full bathroom and kitchenette. Located in the heart of Seal Cove, you’re just minutes from the coast and all of the vistas and natural glory that MDI has to offer.
Story by Saisie Moore. Saisie is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Maine.
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