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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Vermont Yurt Rentals - Maple Wind Farm

Birthdays look different for everyone.  It can be a tropical vacation, a nice dinner out or a week long celebration.  My birthdays have always been fun and different from trips abroad to fancy dinners and themed parties with friends.  This year (my last birthday in my 20's) looked a lot different than most.  While a nice dinner out was scheduled for the following week, my actual birthday took place up north in the woods of Vermont. 

 In a yurt.  

Maple Yurt- Maple Wind Farms 
Sunset trek up to the yurt 
While living in Utah, several of my friends had rented yurts in the winter, trekking out to a "permanent tent" in the middle of the woods to camp, ski, hike and play.  The idea of hiking out to this yurt deep in the woods, far from cell phone service and creature comforts was such a fascinating idea to me.  The more I looked into it, the more I decided it was just like Glamping (glamorous camping) and looked like so much fun.  You are virtually in a tent, but you have bunk beds, a wood stove, and a mini kitchen.  All the aspects of camping (starry nights, in the woods, quiet) but with the comforts of beds, a wood stove and a kitchen area.  In my books as far as winter camping goes, this is the only way to go.  I was a little surprised how many people turned down the chance to stay in the yurt for the weekend because it was a little too rustic for them, or because of the lack of proper plumbing.  Different strokes for different folks and at the end of the day, I found 5 other people willing to pee in the woods and eat birthday cake by propane lantern light with me. 

Walking from the yurt back down to the farm 
Walking from the yurt back down to the farm 
I did some research and as it turns out, rentable yurts in the woods are not as easy to find as you would think.  Oddly enough, AirBnB has some in the New England area, but most of them were in someone's back yard.  I wanted one in the woods requiring some form of a hike, removed from other people and the distractions of everyday life.  Finally, after lots of searching, I came across Maple Wind Yurts in Northern Vermont just outside Burlington. In other words, pretty close to Canada.  

Maple Wind Farm offers a "Unique getaway in the Green Mountains of Vermont in comfortable wood and canvas Mongolian style yurts".  What I really loved about this yurt was the location.  Maple Wind Farm is Located in Huntington, Vermont, 25 miles southeast of Burlington. While the yurt is on farm property, it is tucked back in the woods, up and away from the 140-acre farm.  From the yurt (and around the farm) you have gorgeous mountain views.  The farm and yurts also border Camel’s Hump State Park, a  beautiful state park that s home to a notorious hike to Vermont's 3rd highest peak and a >4,000' summit that dominates Huntington’s skyline.  Another great feature was the fact that these yurts weren't TOO far into the woods.  The 1/2 mile hike was close enough if you had to do a few trips from the car, yet far enough from the farm, the other yurt, and anyone around.  

Oh and another perk?  There is absolutely zero cell phone service.  Matter of fact, I still didn't have service in the center of town 5 miles away.  The only place I had service was 20 minutes away heading towards the highway or at the top of Camels Hump. Unolugged weekend ahead. 

Walking from the yurt back down to the farm 
First Impressions:  The yurt was everything we expected and MORE!  We met Beth in the parking lot to answered any of our questions, and even leant us a pair of snow shoes (Vermont had been buried in snow over the last few weeks).  Beth pointed us in the right direction and we hiked up to the yurt at sunset to find the yurt clean and in good condition.  There was everything you needed in the yurt and more from fully stocked kitchen supplies to stacked firewoord and kindling. We unloaded our gear and quickly started a fire.  My friends slowly trickled in over the next day and everyone seemed to be just as impressed by the yurts as we were.  It was such a fun experience to be tucked into the woods but with all the amenities of the yurt.  Far away from service and light pollution, it was a very relaxing experience with some of the most gorgeous night skies I have ever seen.  I will definitely be back to rent these yurts again and would love to come back in the fall to hike Camels Hump again and enjoy the fall foliage of vermont yurt-side. 

The Yurts: 2 - the Maple Yurt and Spruce Yurt, about 300 yards from each other.  We were in the Maple Yurt and never even saw the Spruce Yurt.  The Maple Yurt is straight back up the hill which adds an extra element of excitement when hauling your sled up to the yurt. 

Cost:  $145 a night plus 9% rooms and meal tax (2-night minimum during weekends).

Reservations:  Can be made online and the online calendar can be viewed HERE.  Full payment is requested to hold your reservation. Payment can be made by credit card via our online reservation form or you can mail a check. If you need to cancel your reservation Maple Wind Farm will refund your money less a $50 administrative fee. If it is within three weeks of your date, you forfeit your entire fee.

Sleeps:  10 people.  4 sets of bunk beds and two extra twin mattresses. 

In the yurt:  Kitchen area (propane burner stove, propane lantern, and two propane tanks), wood stove (with a drying area, firewood, paper, kindling, and matches), bunks, large table with assorted seating for ten.  

Stocked with: Firewood, utensils (knives, forks, spoons, spatulas, ladles, etc), plates, bowls, pots, pans, coffee pot, mugs, dish washing basin (dish soap and sponge), playing cards, garbage can and bags, gray water bucket, brooms/dust pans, toilet paper, snow shovel, axe. 

Homemade bunks and table in the yurt
Woodstove, stocked wood and kindling in the yurt 
Kitchen area stocked with kitchen supplies 
What to bring:  Lanterns, speaker for music, SLIPPERS (a must, the floor is cold!), food supplies, beer, coffee, french press, sleeping bags/bedding, pillows, first aid supplies, head lamps and dog amenities (bed, food, bowls). 

Food:  The luxury of propane tanks and a stove is really (really) nice for camping.  We brought up a bunch of pre-made food that we could quickly heat up in the stove for dinners, sandwiches for lunches, and cooked up breakfast each morning.  Our first dinner there I packed in some pre-made chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms that we could easily reheat on the stove (the yurt is stocked with various pots and pans).  For breakfast, we cooked up eggs each morning and made egg sandwiches for an easy breakfast.  Each morning I whipped up a fresh pot of coffee in the french press which is so much better than any and all instant coffee (the yurt does come with an old school percolator we did not need to use, there are also mugs for 10 people).  Lunch was sandwiches packed for the trail which made that meal very easy.  The birthday dinner was a large feast where everyone contributed something.  Marissa and Ben brought some amazing curried couscous, quinoa and chicken (all pre-made and wrapped in foil blocks that could be reheated on the stove).  I brought up some home-made chili, chili toppings and salad.  Liz and Mike brought a delicious cake and some awesome birthday party supplies (glow sticks, banners, balloons, it was perfection).  We also hiked in a lot of great New England beer, wine and water.  Food and alcohol was not spared on this trip, even tucked away in the woods in a yurt.

Heat:  It was a cold night the first night we arrived (20's) and it does take about 2-3 hours for the yurt to heat up.  Once the heat gets cranking, you will be amazed how warm the yurt stays.  The first night we were comfortable with the wood stove cranking all night.  The second night was warmer and were actually all hot at night.  You will have to get up a few times throughout the night to keep the fire going.  If you come during the winter, prepare to hear large sheets of snow crashing off the yurt roof as the woodstove warms up the space (our dog did NOT appreciate the noise). 

Water:  There is a spigot at the barn with large jugs provided by the farm and is available year round.  In the summer there is also a spigot right at the Maple Yurt. At the Spruce yurt, you can filter water from the nearby stream at your own risk. 

Hauling Gear:  The farm provides one sled per yurt for hauling gear up in the winter.  Be careful how much you load up the sled.  The hike to the yurt is all uphill and a full jug of water alone is very hard to get up the hill on the sled. 

The snowbank you have to cross to pass through the gate to hike to Maple Yurt 
Hauling a full sled up to Maple Yurt 
The outhouse by Maple Yurt 
Bathrooms:  One composting outhouse by the yurt for #2 business only (each yurt has its own).  Apparently, urine interferes with the composting process and causes a foul odor.  Solids in the outhouse, anything else behind a tree.  

Buy Supplies:  The nearest store in 5 miles away in Huntington called Beaudry's General Store.  They had everything from homemade frozen pizza to paper supplies and wing specials on Sundays.  If you forgot anything, or run out of food, you can stock up on basic supplies here.  The farm also sells various products such as ground beef, bacon, sausage, pork chops, beef steaks, eggs and maple syrup if you put an order in before arriving at the farm. 

Dog-Friendly:  YES!  2 dog maximum (I asked Beth ahead of time about bringing a 3rd dog and it was not a problem).  There are also a few very sweet farm dogs on the property, a lab and a border collie that will greet you at your car.  

Olive enjoying the snow on the farm, hiking down from the yurt
Parking: In between the barn and the house.  Carpool and/or double park your cars.  There are two yurts and can be several cars in the parking lot. 

Service:  Zero.  One person in the group had some spotty service at the farm.  Make plans AHEAD of time when you are meeting people at the yurt.  We did not have service and when guests showed up later than expected, it made communication and planning more challenging. 

The barn:  water, jugs and sleds are found under the alcove to the right.  There are signs
Getting to the farm:  I highly HIGHLY highly suggest arriving at the farm during the day.  If it is your first time, it can be hard trying to unload your car and search for your yurt in the middle of winter.  The farm is located up a steep dirt road which can be muddy or icy.  4WD is highly recommended. 

What to do:  Hike, Ski, Bike, Snowshoe, Relax!  The yurt borders Camels Hump State Park with a lot of hiking options including a summit to Camels Hump and hiking along the famous Long Trail.  There are plenty of cross country ski trails as well.  If you are there in the winter, the farm is 6.5 miles from Mad River Glen ski area and 30 minutes from Sugarbush ski resort.  We had the dogs so skiing wasn't really an option.  Instead, we hiked Camels Hump.  The main trailhead is about 5-10 minutes away (driving) at the end of Camels Hump Road back towards Beaudrys and the center of town.  We had an awesome and intense hike up Camels Hike which will be getting its own post next week.

Amazing views seen from the walk down from the yurt 
Owners:  "Maple Wind Farm has been in operation since 1999, with owners Bruce Hennessey and Beth Whiting at the helm. We used to run On the Loose Expeditions, an adventure travel company that guided folks on journeys and adventures in far reaches of the world. In 2009 we decided to close the doors of On the Loose and just focus on the farm".  I contacted Beth several times regarding our weekend at the yurt.  She was always quick to answer and SO accommodating.  Even though there was a 2 dog limit, she had no problem allowing us to bring a third dog.  She also leant us a pair of snow shoes and answered any of our questions upon arrival.  

Snowy Vermont Peaks 
Fresh snow on the farm 
Parking area (right) and barns 

We had such an amazing time ringing in my 29th birthday in the woods of Vermont.  If you want a truly unique winter getaway in the Green Mountains of Vermont, then this is for you.  The farm has sweeping mountain views and the owners are friendly, accommodating and very helpful.  Beth answered all my emails right away and answered all our questions/leant us some gear once we arrived at the farms.  While the yurts aren't truly in the middle of the woods, they are tucked away in a corner of the property and you will feel far from the stresses of home.  The hike to the yurt is the perfect length to give you that "camping" feeling, while still being close to the cars for hauling supplies and lugging water.  The yurt has everything you need from pots and pans to stacked firewood.  If you want to camp with luxuries of beds and heat, this is a great option.  I imagine the yurts can be quite toasty in the middle of the summer, but we are already planning a trip back up for the fall.  I am so thankful for friends who would camp out in the woods with me all weekend and make 29th one of the best birthdays yet.  This will be a birthday weekend I will not soon forget.

Thanks Beth and Maple Wind Farm for making my yurting birthday wishes come true! 


1 comment :

  1. It sounds like you had a great time, Katie. I was sure you'd be writing about it. Did you get around to doing any cross-country skiing? Did you try snowshoeing yourself?

    BTW, I did some snowshoeing today for the first time. It was on my new military style stealth (white colored) snowshoes that Fedex brought late yesterday. The snow was mostly gone, but I found a deep enough spot after a 1-1/2 mile walk into the woods, in a low area next to the local river. It was actually a lot of fun.


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