New England

The Best 5 Woodsy Winter Getaways

Discover a cozy retreat amid New England’s snow-dusted woodlands.

By Kim Knox Beckius

Dec 03 2020


The lakeside Eagle’s Nest cabin at Wolf Cove Inn in Poland, Maine.

Photo Credit : Courtesy of Wolf Cove Inn
TRAVEL NOTE:Since many businesses and venues are adjusting their operations in response to COVID-19 health concerns, please contact them directly or check their websites before making travel plans.
In the stillness of the forest—and the warmth you feel when you come in from the cold—you’ll find peace for both body and mind in these lesser-known New England towns. These woodsy outposts beckon you to leave your imprint on the snowy landscape, even if it’s only the boot tracks from an outdoor ramble leading back to your toasty lodge.
A view across the fields at Rikert Nordic Center in Vermont.
Photo Credit : Corey Hendrickson

Ripton, Vermont

The seven cozily furnished Robert Frost Mountain Cabins glow with the flicker of gas fireplaces and outdoor campfire pits. Book one, and you’ll have the surrounding 100 wooded acres virtually to yourself. Snowshoes and sleds are free for guests’ use—or bring your snowmobile, hop on the statewide trail network, and ride for miles. Here in the heart of the Green Mountain National Forest, you can give cross-country skiing or fat biking a try on Rikert Nordic Center’s 2,000 conserved acres, or ski backcountry glades at the Middlebury Snow Bowl. But Robert Frost, who spent his last two decades of summers harvesting inspiration from Ripton’s dense wilds, would surely approve if you never budged from your cabin’s Swedish reading nook except for a brief evening walk through snowy woods.

Charlemont, Massachusetts

Charlemont’s lone hotel, the Warfield House Inn, sits amid 180 hilltop acres where trees hold new snow in the pretty-yet-precarious way doughnuts hold powdered sugar. Just four miles down the road, at the headquarters for the 6,000-acre Mohawk Trail State Forest, hikers and snowshoers can pick up a segment of the Mahican-Mohawk Trail, a footpath traveled for millennia. Connect to the Hoosac Range Trail and hike out along the Berkshires’ northeastern wall for valley-and-mountain scenes. This actively managed wilderness grows quieter as it merges with Savoy Mountain and Florida State Forests’ 13,000 adjoining acres. Ice fish on Savoy’s North and South ponds; cut your own cross-country trails or ski those blazed by snowmobilers; spy on turkeys and grouse; or watch otters and hunks of ice glide down the Cold River. Any time spent here, beneath the long shadows of some of New England’s oldest white pines, brings reassurance that life marches on.

The lakeside Eagle’s Nest cabin at Wolf Cove Inn in Poland, Maine.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Wolf Cove Inn

Poland, Maine

Gaze out at frosted pine boughs and frozen Tripp Lake while awaiting delivery of a steaming-hot morning meal and Maine-roasted Carrabassett Coffee at Wolf Cove Inn, which indulges guests with not only breakfast in bed but also ease of access to winter adventures. Within an 18-mile radius, you can cross-country ski at Roberts Farm Preserve; skate, sled, snowshoe, ski, or ride a fat bike at Pineland Farms; or bundle up for an outing with professional musher Alex Therriault at his Ultimate Dog Sledding Experience. At Carousel Horse Farm, sleigh rides and beginner-friendly trail rides follow the same route: through hayfields, timberlands, and old- and new-growth forest, then back up over Leach Hill with the Presidential Range in view. Restore warmth to your extremities with an in-room massage back at Wolf Cove.

Hitting the trails at New Hampshire’s AMC Cardigan Lodge.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of the Appalachian Mountain Club

Alexandria, New Hampshire

When Shem Valley Road dead-ends at the AMC Cardigan Lodge, there is nothing beyond but forest. And without the lights of civilization to steal your view, you’ll wonder, Who scattered all those extra stars in the sky? Winter weekends are full-service: You’ll have to bring sleeping bags, but hearty multicourse meals are provided from Friday’s dinner through lunch on Sunday. That means the days are yours to hike, with supplied snowshoes or microspikes, as deep as you’d like into the Appalachian Mountain Club’s 1,100 acres. With the essential gear and stamina, ascending Mount Cardigan is also an option (winter climbers prefer the West Ridge Trail). There is contentment, though, in simply admiring the 3,155-foot peak through dining hall windows while a fire blazes, board game battles ensue, and someone inevitably strums a guitar.

Barkhamsted, Connecticut

Come winter, the trout wriggling around in the Farmington River have grown to a nice size, and the fair-weather anglers have gone home. That means on sunny days—especially in the village of Riverton, where the water stays a smidge warmer—you’ll have good luck fly-casting nymphs and swinging streamers. Look downriver, and you’ll see little but trees and rocky riverbank. The woodlands here are conserved within the American Legion and Peoples State Forests, a place where hikes and snowshoe treks this time of year are disturbed only by the shrill cries of blue jays and the whispers of 200-year-old white pines. There are yellow-blazed trails for cross-country skiers in the Whittemore Grove area; however, if you’ve had a beer in the tavern at the newly renovated 10-room Old Riverton Inn, where winter wanderers have warmed themselves since 1796, you may feel drawn to local Norbrook Farm Brewery instead. Its 450 acres are yours for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and working up a thirst.