Outside magazine, May 1995
Winter in western Maine's Carrabassett Valley means throngs of powder hounds swarming the slopes of Sugarloaf. Spring and summer, by comparison, are the calm after the storm--especially from the vantage of the Inn on Winter's Hill, above Kingfield amid six acres of pine forests and apple orchards. While the crowds diminish come spring, the outdoor options multiply. After the snow melts, the hundred miles of trails and logging roads at the Carrabassett Valley Ski Touring Center (207-237-6830), 15 minutes away, become the domain of mountain bikers. There's a $5 trail fee, and bikes can be rented for $20 per day; lessons, guided rides, and maps are also available. Just 300 yards out the inn's back door, you can cast for brookies in the Carrabassett River; first pick up a nonresident fishing license from Tranten's General Store in Kingfield ($8 for a day license; 207-265-2202). Hikers can be on the Appalachian Trail in a matter of 20 minutes (the trailhead is on Maine 27 north of Sugarloaf) and can trek up nearby 4,000-footers, including Sugarloaf and Bigelow Mountains. Topo maps are sold at Pat Buck's Emporium in Kingfield (207-265-2101). Farther afield, 45 minutes east in Bingham, Maine Whitewater (207-672-4814) runs day trips down the Class III-IV rapids of the Dead, Kennebec, and Penobscot Rivers for $75-$95 per person.
At day's end, unwind back at the inn, a restored Georgian Revival mansion built in 1895. A game of boccie or croquet on the lawn, or a swim in the pool, will prime you for veal chambord or salmon baked in phyllo dough at Julia's Restaurant, in the mansion's former parlor. The inn's most authentic sleeping quarters are the four upstairs bedrooms in the main house, each with Victorian furnishings and pressed-tin ceilings; 16 more-modern rooms are in the renovated barn out back.
Kingfield is a two-hour drive from Portland, a four-hour drive from Boston. Rooms in the main house cost $125 per night; the newer rooms are $75. For reservations, call 800-233-9687.
Filed To: Snow Sports