Access and Resources
A family of four can share a two-bedroom cabin for $840-$1,045 per week, depending on the month, excluding meals. Plans covering food and lodging are $575 per person per week or $270 per week for children 12 and under. Or choose a four-person yurt ($50-$100 per night) on the trails or a cabin tent ($25-$80 per night) in the woods.
After 20 minutes cruising in a pontoon boat across Moosehead Lake in central Maine, my three-year-old daughter, Cady, spied the payoff: "I see him! I see him!" she yelled, knocking my husband's Wisconsin Badgers cap into the chilly water. Sure enough, the lake's namesake mammal emerged from the woods on spindly legs and nosed along the water's edge, oblivious to the hum of video cameras.
But the loss of a favorite hat was the sole disappointment at The Birches Resort, a 1930 wilderness sports camp that's morphed from a hunting outpost into an 11,000-acre family retreat. Situated in the Moosehead Lake region on the west side of the water, The Birches consists of a lakeside lodge with an indoor waterfall and trout tank, 15 hand-built one- to four-bedroom lakeside cabins equipped with hot water, kitchen and bath, and a wood stove or fireplace. That cozy heat source is welcome after a day of hiking or cycling the property's 40 miles of trails, boating on the 35-mile-long lake, or exploring 1,806-foot Mount Kineo, the largest hunk of flint in the country, with an 800-foot cliff that drops into North Bay.
The Birches is home base for Wilderness Expeditions, which will outfit your crew for its Family Adventures Camp (rafting, kayaking, hiking, and wildlife-watching for ages 12 and up) or a float trip on the lower Kennebec River (ages 5 and up). Though the cabins are equipped with cookware, we opted for the meal plan so we could feast on pancakes and steak in the atmospheric lakeside dining room with its 35-ton fieldstone fireplace. Cady spent the last night of our getaway dancing to folk tunes while the moonbeams skipped across the lake.