Cross-country skiers don’t need much to enjoy a winter day beyond some fresh snow and a few miles of trail. Throw in a shelter, a wood stove, a hot drink, and a warm bed and you have the makings of a perfect weekend. With a growing number of public and private landowners building yurts, such trailside accommodations are increasingly accessible. Here are six yurts to get you started on planning your next winter getaway, but act soon. They fill up fast.
1. HIDDEN VALLEY NATURE CENTER
Hidden Valley Nature Center (HVNC) spans 1,000 acres of forest and wetland in Maine’s Midcoast region. The property features 25 miles of trails (15 to 20 miles are groomed for cross-country skiing, depending on conditions), year-round classes and workshops, and sustainable forestry operations. Two yurts, located in opposite directions about a half-mile from the parking area, provide ideal winter base camps for exploring this diverse habitat. Each yurt sleeps six ($80 per night, per group) and comes equipped with a wood stove and a gas camp stove. Three huts, two campsites, and a cabin are also available.
DISTANCE: 25-mile trail network
INFO: Midcoast Conservancy; AMC’S Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast (AMC Books)
2. MAINE FOREST YURTS
In the years since becoming the oldest winner of the TV show Survivor, Bob Crowley, with the help of his family, has turned a 100-acre plot outside of Freeport, Maine, into a remote-feeling escape. Three miles of trail connects three yurts and Runaround Pond, a popular spot for skating and wildlife-watching. The furnished yurts, which sleep six and start at $140 per night, per group, are equipped with wood stoves for heating, gas stoves for cooking, bunks, and composting toilets. Two extensive cross-country ski networks are also located nearby: Bradbury Mountain State Park (5 miles away) and Pineland Farms (6 miles away).
DISTANCE: 3-mile trail network onsite
INFO: Maine Forest Yurts; Bradbury Mountain; Pineland Farms
3. MAPLE WIND FARM
A working farm in northern Vermont might seem an unlikely place to spend the night, but with two yurts and easy access to Camel’s Hump State Park, Maple Wind Farm offers a comfortable Green Mountain base camp. You can ski straight from your yurt via logging road and snowmobile trail to reach a junction with the Catamount Trail in about 1.5 miles. From there, Catamount Trail extends 130 miles north to the Canadian border and 180 miles south to Massachusetts. The yurts can sleep 10; $145 per group, per night. Guests can arrange to purchase fresh meat and eggs from the farm to cook on the yurt’s griddle.
DISTANCE: 3 miles round trip to Catamount Trail
INFO: Maple Wind Farm; Camel’s Hump State Park; Catamount Trail
4. FALLS BROOK YURTS
Situated in the middle of New York’s Adirondack Mountains, Falls Brook Yurts provides a convenient base camp for skiers of every ability level. Ski or snowshoe from your front door up Sherman Pond Trail to Stony Pond Trail (up to 8.4 miles round trip) or venture farther afield to one of the other trail networks in the area. Nearby Pharaoh Lake and Hoffman Notch wilderness areas cover nearly 85,000 acres combined. For a relatively flat but lengthy tour (12.6 miles), try the Pharaoh Lake and Pharaoh Lake Loop trails. Two yurts are available; one sleeps seven and the other eight, with rates starting at $95 per night (for two people; $20 per night for each additional guest).
INFO: Falls Brook Yurts; NY Lands and Waters
5. ALLAIRE STATE PARK
Twenty miles of easy-to-moderate trails surround historic Allaire Village, a preserved 19th-century iron-making town, in New Jersey’s pinelands. The state park campground, which includes six yurts, is located on Allaire’s southern edge, just off the Garden State Parkway, and is circled by the 1.3-mile Boy Scout Trail. The remainder of the trails begin on the other side of Hospital Road and stretch north. Pine (4.6 miles), Mountain Laurel (3 miles), and Oak (2.7 miles) trails form a series of nestled loops, starting at the trailhead closest to the campground. The yurts (starting at $35 per night, per group, for residents and $60 for out-of-staters) sleep four people each and include wood stoves. Note that the yurts are closed
DISTANCE: Up to 20 miles
INFO: NJ Parks and Forests; Outdoors with Kids: New York (AMC Books)
6. LUMS POND STATE PARK
Lums Pond State Park is dominated by its namesake body of water, which cuts a crescent-shaped path across the 200-plus-acre property from east to west. In summer, it’s a popular spot for paddlers and swimmers; in winter, the mostly flat hiking and multiuse trails offer great cross-country skiing when there’s enough snow. Two primary trails, an inner and an outer loop, pass the campground: The wide, 8.1-mile Little Jersey Trail traverses forests and fields near the park’s outer edge, while the narrower, 6.4-mile Swamp Forest Trail follows the shore of the pond. The campground’s two yurts ($40 to $45 per night, per group) sleep five guests each.
DISTANCE: 6.4-mile loop or 8.1-mile loop
INFO: Delaware State Parks; Outdoors with Kids: Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Susan Charkes, Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert, Carey Kish