QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: ~70,000 acres
- Trail Mileage: ~80 miles
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: easy to difficult
- Sights: mountains, lakes, ponds, forests
The map above shows my January, 2018, route from the winter parking lot to Little Lyford Lodge and Gorman Chairback Lodge, a two-night trip. There are lots more trails here!
You can ski from lodge to lodge in the AMC’s 100-mile wilderness — a quiet, remote, and lovely tract of land — in ease and comfort. The AMC lodges — Little Lyford, Gorman Chairback, and Medawisla — are affordable and cozy backcountry huts. The 80 miles of trails between the lodges (which are spaced out to be under 10 miles from one to the next) are groomed (but not for classic skiing). They were really well maintained when I visited (January 2018). A fourth lodge, West Branch Pond Camps, is part of the lodge-to-lodge network but is run by a different owner.
For my trip, I started in the winter parking lot at the end of K.I. Road, a roughly 10-mile drive from Greenville. This road is decently plowed in the wintertime, but to be on the safe side, bring a car that does well in snow. After dropping off our luggage (which the AMC staff snowmobile in to the lodges!), we skied seven miles to Little Lyford Lodge along the Hedgehog Gate Trail, which is windy and fun and not too technical. Along the way you can glimpse snowcapped mountain tops through the winter trees. You can rent little cabins at the lodges or stay in the bunk house, which is the cheaper, communal sleeping space. I say splash out for a private cabin, particularly at Gorman where you will have a beautiful view of Long Pond.
The nightly lodging rate includes a big home-cooked dinner and breakfast, and a packed lunch. The cabins are all heated by wood stoves that you need to tend through the night to stay warm on frosty nights. Don’t forget to pack a sleeping bag. The lodges also have saunas, so the AMC recommends that guests bring bathing suits. The AMC staff — lots of youngish people who live and work at the lodges — tend to be very kind and helpful.
The lodges are four-season, so I hopefully will return in the summertime or fall for hiking and biking. It’s recommended that families with little kids start off at Medawisla, which is the only hut you can drive into during the winter. Also, I think Little Lyford is the only lodge that allows dogs. Taking dogs out on the trails appears to be okay.
Directions: To get to the winter parking lot, take I-95 to Pittsfield or Newport, then drive north along the main roads to Greenville. In Greenville, take a right onto Pleasant Street, which eventually becomes K.I. Road (short for Katahdin Ironworks). The road passes the airport and continues east until it ends at the AMC parking lot. Signs for the lodges along the road help you stay on course.