Written by Melanie Brooks / Photography by Further North Photography

First published in 2019 for The Maine Highlands

This past fall I found my cross country ski boots in my basement. I was in the midst of a passionate organizational fit that would make Marie Kondo proud. The gleaming white boots were on a shelf next to some potting soil. I grabbed them, held them to my chest, felt a spark of joy, and vowed to put them to good use this winter.

It had been years since I had gone cross country skiing. When my friend Angie suggested we head to The Birches Resort in Rockwood to ski and take some photos, I was in. We decided to invite my friend Shannon along. She runs FitMaine and had never been to the western shore of Moosehead Lake before. I had a hunch she’d be up to the road trip. We packed up our gear, some food, and headed north.

We were delighted that our trip coincided with a snow storm. Getting to Rockwood isn’t hard…but it’s a lot easier with four wheel drive when the roads are snowy. It was a sunny day, and the ride was beautiful. Snow still clung to the trees on the side of the road, making them appear doused in sparkling marshmallow fluff.

We checked in to cabin #6, affectionately called Feelin’ Groovy. The Birches Resort offer 15 rustic lakefront cabins with one, two, or three bedrooms. Angie and her dog, Mason, took the downstairs room while Shannon and I slept up in the loft. Upon arrival a staffer lit a fire in our wood stove. With a pile of seasoned wood on our covered porch, we were able to stay cozy and warm during our entire stay.

A group of Vermonters occupied the cabin next to us. They were half way through a week-long snowmobile trip. The Birches is an excellent stop for snowmobilers. The trails are meticulously maintained and you can ride right across Moosehead Lake to Mt. Kineo.

Angie made dinner for the three of us in the cabin. We headed to the lodge afterwards for a drink at the bar. Warm and inviting, the lakeside dining room serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The view of Moosehead Lake are hard to beat, and the two massive fireplaces beckon you to stop a while and warm your feet. It was wonderfully comfortable.

We got up early and enjoyed watching the cloudy sky turn sunny while sipping hot coffee. I made breakfast and Angie assembled sandwiches for us to take on our cross country ski trek. We loaded the cars and parked at the trailhead. The cross country ski trails had just been groomed, and we were the first people to break them in.

We decided to start on the Main Trail and then followed the Baker Trail back to the lodge. It was a perfect three mile loop that gave us a few stretches where we could glide down some hills. Mason was all too happy to run with us through the snow.

The Birches Resort has more than 40 miles of marked, groomed trails. They offer cross country ski rentals and lessons for first-timers. Their Nordic Ski Trail Passes are affordable. I suggest the full-day rate ($14 adults; $10 kids) so that you can take advantage of the sauna and outdoor hot tub. There’s nothing better after a day of skiing than relaxing in a steamy jacuzzi under the stars.

We were the only people on the entire trail. We saw some moose tracks, but other than that, we had the place to ourselves. It was perfectly peaceful, start to finish.

Written by Melanie Brooks / Photography by Further North Photography

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