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Home » TRAVEL AND LODGING in ME » MAINE (all topics) » Maine Huts and Trails, Carrabassett Valley, Maine
Flagstaff Hut Entrance
Maine Huts and Trails, Carrabassett Valley, Maine

By Sara Clinehens | September 28, 2012

Sara Clinehens discovers a rural retreat that has put comfort back into camping.

A Happy Crowd Enjoying Dinner

After an exhausting, enchanting day of hiking, biking or cross country skiing in the backcountry, have you ever wished you didn’t have to turn into a pumpkin and go back to ordinary life but yet also could forgo pitching a tent and waking up with a sore back?

While we’re fantasizing, wouldn’t it be nice to discover a wilderness oasis complete with a warm bed, hot shower, home-cooked meal, and even a glass of wine waiting for you?

This dream is now a reality in western Maine, thanks to the non-profit organization Maine Huts and Trails.   They call it “comfort camping”, with an emphasis on comfort.

In the last two years, the organization has built two state-of-the-art “huts” near the Sugarloaf ski resort at Poplar Stream Falls and Flagstaff Lake.   An 11-mile trail connects the two lodges, but for those seeking a more leisurely day, shorter trails lead to each lodge from various trailheads.

The trails are free, open to anyone even if you chose not to stay overnight in the huts, and are groomed year-round by Maine Huts and Trails.   Any kind of “people-powered” recreational equipment such as bikes, snow-shoes, and skis is welcome.

Skiers Arriving at Poplar Stream Falls

Each hut can accommodate around forty guests a night, and private rooms are available for groups.   Although the huts’ communal sleeping and dining arrangements bring to mind the classic European hostel, their self-sustaining infrastructure is as futuristic and eco-chic as it gets.

Completely off the grid, the huts are heated by a radiant floor heating system, and generate their own energy from either a hydro-power turbine (Poplar Stream Falls hut) or a wind turbine (Flagstaff Lake hut).   Both structures are outfitted with solar panels, wood-boilers to heat water, and most radically, modern composting toilets.

Guests are encouraged to participate in the energy-saving ethos by conserving water and turning off unneeded lights.

The self-sustaining lodges are not simply a gimmick in an age of rampant green-washing, but rather a natural extension of the core mission of Maine Huts and Trails.   The organization aims to protect the public’s access to the state’s most valuable natural resource - its wild woods.

Over 90% of Maine wilderness is privately owned, but historically much of that was by Maine-based timber companies that allowed public recreational use of their land.

However, in the last decade ownership of the state’s 10 million acres of woodland has started to shift over to multi-national corporations with an eye towards real estate development, putting not only the public’s access but also the existence of Maine’s wilderness at risk.


Maine Huts and Trails founder Larry Warren had been shopping around his idea for the trail system since the mid-seventies, but it didn’t gain support until this shift in ownership started to cause concern among the state’s conservationists and prominent outdoor advocates.

Now, with the support of LL Bean, New Balance, and Olympians Seth Wescott and Joan Benoit Samuelson, the organization is scrambling to secure 180 miles of trails, through a patchwork arrangement of leases, easements and ownership.

The vision is that the trail system will one day stretch from the Mahoosuc Mountains on the New Hampshire border all the way up to Moosehead Lake, dotted by twelve huts along the way. But the big-picture thinking doesn’t stop there. David Herring, executive director of Maine Huts and Trails, says, “We want to create sustainable economic development in the region to replace industries that have died off and make inland Maine an eco-tourist destination.”

Many visitors to the huts and trails will be satisfied to know that they are helping to grow a sustainable recreational infrastructure that will preserve Maine’s wilderness and replace some of the area’s lost milling jobs. But everyone who stays overnight in the huts gets to relish that - at least for the night - the spell cast by the Maine woods didn’t have to be broken.


375 N. Main Street, Kingfield, ME 04947

(877) 634-8824


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