My adult daughter and I booked 2 nights (over New Years) - one night each at Poplar & Flagstaff huts, with the goal to X-country ski. I am from Seattle, and she lives in Portland, Maine. We had hoped to spend 3 nights - (and add a night at Stratton Brook, but, we didn't have enough time. Definitely use the Maine Huts & Trails website: it is incredibly well organized, and has everything you need to plan your vacation, (which you need to read!) - but, since we had questions, I opted to call Reservations.
The staff was amazing and helped us decide the best way to use our time, and construct our route. We decided to start at the Stratton Brook trail head and ski to Stratton Brook - stop for lunch, and then continue on to Poplar Hut for the night. The second day would take us to Flagstaff Hut. This route was 10+ miles a day - just enough challenge without being exhausting. (But, had we been day skiers, Maine Huts & Trails is a perfect day trip too!)
We used a car transport service to drop our car off at Flagstaff, and then bring us to the Stratton Brook trail head, where we started. That allowed us to ski out at Flagstaff and have our car waiting for us. (And the fabulous website gave us the contact name for this great option!)
We also opted for the Gear Shuttle - which allowed us to send our packs ahead (with the sleeping bags and fresh clothes) so all we had to carry were our day packs. A perfect solution and definite value at $35/transfer! Had we had to carry the packs ourselves, I doubt the trip would have been doable.
The day before we arrived, they got 30 inches of fresh snow! Definitely a mixed blessing given the grooming challenge, but, their staff worked non-stop and the resulting trail conditions were exquisite! The best part of Maine Huts & Trails is that the terrain is completely family friendly! There are trails for just about ALL skill levels - making it family friendly and/or challenging. I can honestly say we spent 2 full glorious days skiing in the most pristine natural conditions - awe struck by the snow covered beauty surrounding us.
That alone would have been enough - but, that was only the beginning! The huts are actually full-service lodges that have been built with exacting care to minimize their ecological footprint while offering gracious hospitality with basic+ comforts. Dinner & breakfast were served family style and the staff carefully accounted for dietary requirements. Since we spent New Year's Eve - we were treated to a special dinner and champagne toasts. Lunches are available for purchase on weekends at the Hut, but, as an overnight guest, we had a chance to pack a sack lunch for the trail. (I *have* to get the recipe for the chick pea salad!)
Maine Huts & Trails is rightfully proud of their Mission to make the outdoors available to everyone and the staff shared the history & vision of Maine Huts & Trails along with the painstaking planning that went into the design and build of each Hut. Every night an energy tour is offered - and the opportunity to learn how the Huts operate off the grid is not to be missed!
Maine Huts & Trails encourages people to be "screen free", not that hard, since there is no Wi-Fi. This creates a camaraderie and by the end of the evening we'd made several new friends.
I don't want to forget: We particularly appreciated the toasty warm "drying rooms" - which allowed us to hang our wet clothes & boots and reclaim them warm & dry.
I cannot believe that Maine Huts & Trails charges nothing to use their trails for day-use but providing free access is part of their values. Staying overnight is a complete bargain! If you go, please strongly consider joining Maine Huts & Trails, $50/person, $100/family. These funds go toward critical trail maintenance & staff salaries - and ensuring that Maine Huts & Trails is developed and preserved for everyone's use and enjoyment! How refreshing in these days of commercial development!
Maine Huts & Trails deserves far wider publicity and recognition for its first rate facilities, passionate staff, and incomparable (winter) x-country / snow shoeing terrain! I look forward to my next visit very soon!