AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative (MWI) is a vast, ecologically significant swath of land. It’s an important carbon sink, a habitat for numerous threatened species, and home to some of the region’s most pristine freshwater.
MWI is also a playground for some of the best outdoor recreation in the Northeast, including world-class fly fishing, hiking, and skiing. And with its reliable snowpack and tranquil beauty, winter is one of the best times to visit AMC’s 100,000-plus-acre property. Here’s what to expect when you visit MWI in winter.
AMC has three camps in the Maine Woods. In winter, Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins, Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins, and nearby Moose Point Cabin are only accessible by ski, snowshoe, or dogsled. Medawisla Lodge and Cabins is accessible by car year-round. When driving from the south, Greenville is the last town you’ll pass through. If you need gas, groceries, or other essentials, we recommend that you get them there. AMC also has an office in Greenville, and we invite you to stop and visit. We are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You can find more detailed driving directions on our lodging pages, but keep in mind that the trip involves travel on plowed logging roads and we highly recommend four-wheel drive or studded tires.
If you’re visiting Little Lyford or Gorman Chairback, you’ll park at our winter parking lot, and you’ll need to arrive before noon – earlier if you’re snowshoeing. At the top of the parking lot are sheds, clearly marked with where you’ll need to leave your luggage. You might want to keep a small daypack or a water bottle for the trip into the lodge, but you can leave the rest of your gear in the designated shed. Our staff will transport your gear to the lodge by snowmobile.
Trail conditions will be marked at the trailhead, and free maps are available. Our trails are groomed and rated by difficulty, and there are several options to get to both Little Lyford and Gorman Chairback – from narrow, wooded trails to roads wide enough for the full-sized trucks that travel them in warmer seasons. The suggested beginner routes are KI and Upper Valley Roads to Little Lyford (6.2 miles and shared with snowmobiles) and Gorman Lodge Trail to Gorman Chairback (7.3 miles).
When you arrive at your destination, you’ll check in at the main lodge, and a staff member will show you to your cabin. Every cabin has a woodstove for heat, and our staff can show you how to use it, if needed. Depending on where you’re staying, your cabin may not have electric lights; the cabins without electricity have propane lights. None of the cabins at Little Lyford have electricity, and only some of the cabins at Gorman Chairback do. Regardless, you’ll want to bring a headlamp to help you navigate around the property after dark.
If you’d like to get out and explore more, our destinations are surrounded by miles of trails. It’s an ideal place for a short hike, a snowshoe, or more skiing. If you’d prefer to stay indoors and warm up, all three of our lodges have a wood-fired sauna that’s perfect for relaxing. If you’d like a warm beverage while you curl up by the fire in your cabin or in the main lodge, we have self-serve tea, coffee, and hot chocolate available all day in the main lodges.
Dinner is served in the main lodge at 6 p.m. sharp, and breakfast is at 8 a.m. At dinner, you’ll place your order for the next day’s trail lunch, and at breakfast the next morning your brown bag lunch will be ready to go, along with chips, fruit, cookies, and other grab-and-go treats to fuel the day’s adventures.
Similar to when you arrived at the winter parking lot, you’ll leave your gear in a shed marked for your destination, and our staff will transport it. The route between Little Lyford and Gorman Chairback is an extraordinary 6.5 miles through dense forests, past partially-frozen rivers and scenic vistas. Don’t forget your trail lunch and lots of water. When you get to your destination, you can expect the same warm hospitality, and the same daily routine, as the lodge from where you came.
It is possible to ski from Little Lyford to Medawisla Lodge, but it’s a much longer trip – about 18 miles. There are several ways you can make this trip shorter, including adding a night at the neighboring West Branch Pond Camps or arranging for a snowmobile transport to take you partway. If you do choose to travel between Little Lyford and Medawisla, we can also work with you to shuttle you back to your car at the end of our trip. Advance reservations are required.
If your lodge-to-lodge travels took you between Little Lyford and Gorman Chairback, you’ll simply ski back out to the parking lot at the end of your trip. Be sure to leave a shovel in your car in case of any snow while you’re off the grid.
Lodge-to-lodge skiing in the Maine Woods is a quintessentially Maine experience – a chance to immerse yourself in a quiet that’s hard to find in this region of the country. MWI is an extraordinary place, and a winter visit is one you’re unlikely to forget.
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Some tips from our staff:
- If the skies are clear when you visit, don’t forget to check out the stars. AMC’s Maine Woods property has been designated as New England’s first International Dark Sky Park, and winter’s short days provide even more time to enjoy the stellar show.
- Don’t forget to bring a daypack to transport water, extra gear, and your trail lunch.
- We offer free snowshoes to use at all three of our lodges. These are great for winter hikes in the area.
- Dogs are welcome at all three of our Maine lodges in winter, but reservations are required.
- Beer and wine are available for purchase at Medawisla and Gorman Chairback, and you’re welcome to bring your own to Little Lyford.
- If you can’t make it in winter, the warmer months are also a great time to visit. All three lodges offer unparalleled access to world-class fly fishing, hiking, and paddling.