207-836-2703 >> www.telemarkinn.com
The minimum three-night stay in the summer costs $450 per adult (children 14 and under, $300). The cost includes three guided day activities and three meals a day.
THE AREA AROUND the Telemark Inn, ten miles southwest of Bethel, Maine, is proof that "East Coast wilderness" is not an oxymoron. The pastoral New England lodge is surrounded by 780,000-acre White Mountain National Forestprime habitat for moose and black bear. Add to that owner Steve Crone's domesticated llamas, sled dogs, and horses, and you'll be surprised at how wild it gets just four hours north of Boston.
AT THE LODGE The cedar-shake inn, built as a hunting lodge in the late 1800s, can sleep up to 17 people in five rustic pine-paneled bedrooms. Just off a living room with creaky hardwood floors, a capacious front porch overlooks the birch forest. The inn is so far off the grid that it runs on battery power, making kerosene lamps the primary light source at the dining-room table, where guests eat family-style meals, such as grilled salmon accompanied by veggies plucked from the garden out back.
THE SPORTS Heat up on a thousand-foot scramble over massive boulders for a mile and a half to the top of Table Rock in Grafton Notch State Park. Then work your way down to several creeks feeding Bear River, where you can cool off exploring the smooth granite channels that link a chain of six-foot-deep emerald pools. Launch one of the lodge's canoes on Umbagog Lake, a 15,000-acre national wildlife refuge surrounded by forest, to spot bald eagles, ospreys, and loons. Or rent a mountain bike and spin seven miles up a dirt road to Crocker Pond or grind out a 20-mile round-trip loop to Round Pond.
BACKCOUNTRY FORAY Crone pioneered the llama-trekking business in Maine, and often loads up the woolly beasts with tents, food, and clothes for three-day trips into White Mountain National Forest. You'll trek four miles on Haystack Notch Trail to the west branch of the Pleasant River, where you'll camp under balsam firs and red spruces. The next day, hike about 3.5 miles to the top of 2,100-foot Red Rock Mountain for views of the Presidential Range to the west. Return to the lodge the next morning via trails along the Pleasant River.