Best Places To Beat Cabin Fever
Slam the door in Old Man Winter’s face. Kick Jack Frost out cold. Laugh as the wintry wind howls. Their chilly fingers can’t get you inside your snug backcountry cabin. Warmed by a crackling wood stove, flush with enjoyment from a day’s exhilarating hike, ski, or snowshoe, you kick back and bliss out in the heart of winter’s domain.
Roaring Brook Bunkhouse
Baxter State Park, Maine
In the summer, you can drive to Roaring Brook’s front porch. In the winter, you have to ski 12 miles over undulating, unplowed access roads. The reward is frontdoor access to some of the deepest winter adventure in the Northeast. Choose from the adjacent Chimney Pond Trail, which makes a thrilling 3.3-mile, 1,600-foot ascent to Katahdin, or a 7-mile journey north to Russell Pond. Both destinations feature their own bunkhouses, ideal for extended multi-cabin forays.
Distance: 24 miles round-trip
Info: $19 per person; Chimney Pond $38 per person; Baxter State Park, 207-723-5140
Carter Notch Hut
White Mountain National Forest, N.H.
Nestled below 4,422-foot Wildcat Mountain and 4,832-foot Carter Dome, AMC’s Carter Notch Hut is accessed via a gradual climb along the Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail just north of Pinkham Notch. It offers an idyllic base camp for winter peak-baggers, Ramparts explorers, and casual revelers alike. A winter caretaker staffs the hut, which offers warmth and a communal kitchen. Two separate unheated bunkhouses provide sleeping quarters.
Distance: 7.6 miles round-trip
Information: Member rate $30 per person; 603-466-2727, AMC lodging
White Mountain National Forest, N.H.
This mountaintop aerie crowns the summit of 3,053-foot North Doublehead, the highest point on a distinctive twin-topped massif rising a few miles east of Jackson, and offers a nearby view toward Mount Washington and the Presidential Range. Access the Forest Service-managed cabin via a 1.8-mile snowshoe or ski up the mountain flanks on a broad path. South Doublehead can be reached via a short side trail.
Distance: 3.6 miles round-trip
Information: $20 per night for the entire eight-person cabin. Information, 603-447-5448. Reservations, 877-444-6777
Mount Cardigan, N.H.
The first ski trail ever cut by AMC was on the slopes of 3,121-foot Mount Cardigan in central New Hampshire. High Cabin shares in this history, a cozy oasis built nearly 80 years ago high on the mountain’s flanks. Today an extensive network of ski trails and snowshoe paths laces the slopes, rising steadily upward past High Cabin to the mountain’s bald summit. Renovated in 2004, High Cabin holds up to 12 and offers a wood stove, propane-fired cooking equipment, and ready access to superlative views.
Distance: 4 miles round-trip
Information: Member rates $59 weeknights, $109 Friday-Saturday for the entire cabin; 603-466-2727, AMC Lodging
Merck Forest Cabins
A Green Mountain microcosm exists in southwestern Vermont, replete with miles of cross-country ski trails, multiple backcountry cabins, and a strong nonprofit mission. Nearly 3,000 acres of woodlands and fields, the Merck Forest and Farmland Center offers education programs in land stewardship and conservation. It’s also open to the public year-round for recreation. Seven cabins scatter throughout the property, from remote ridges to secluded valleys, and hold between six and 15 people. Try Ridge or Nenorod Cabin for rolling winter views.
Distance: 1-5 miles round-trip
Information: $45-$75 per night per cabin. 802-394-7836, Merck Forest and Farmland Center website
Grace Camp and Camp Peggy O'Brien
Deep within the Adirondacks, in the midst of the High Peaks region, Johns Brook Valley shelters two backcountry havens. Located a short distance from remote Johns Brook Lodge (JBL to regulars), both are ideal base camps for tackling the icy summits of the Great Range, a line of seven imposing peaks above 4,000 feet that can intimidate by name alone: Gothics, Upper and Lower Wolf Jaws, Armstrong…. Or you can just savor a tranquil cross-country ski or snowshoe along the valley floor.
Distance: 9 miles round-trip
Information: Grace Camp (six people), $180 per night. Camp Peggy O’Brien (12 people), $300 per night; 518-523-3441, Adirondack Mountain Club
Michaux State Forest, Pa.
Iron dug from the ground of Michaux State Forest fed the cannons of the Revolutionary War. Now the same terrain nourishes 85,000 acres of state land, nearly 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and three cabins maintained and operated by the Potomac Appalachian Club. The Hermitage, tucked deep within the forest near precipitous rocks, burbling streams, and stately hemlocks, is arguably the most enticing. Located on a short spur from the AT, the eight-person cabin is accessed via a 0.2-mile drop or mile-long snowshoe, depending on the condition of the unplowed access road.
Distance: 0.4-2 miles round-trip
Information: $25 Sunday-Wednesday, $40 Thursday-Saturday for the entire cabin. Potomac Appalachian Trail Club