Guest post and photos by Jamie Rhein
Maple Corner Farm is a New England treat of maple syrup, a laid-back lodge and an outdoor adventure. I hoped for a perfect Massachusetts afternoon in the country and found it. And, like any business that lasts, there have been changes.
Gone is the dairy and beef business once the mainstay. These days, maple syrup, blueberries, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing bring folks to this family-friendly destination where each season has its draw.
The cross-country skiing caught my attention. When snow conditions are favorable, Maple Corner Farm has cross-country skiing by moonlight once in January and February. Luminaries along the outskirts of the trail help light the way.
During the day, pristine trails that cross the fields and wind through the woods offer outdoor beauty and exercise for cross-country skiers and snowshoers whose paths cross at intersections.
Conditions didn’t cooperate the week before I arrived so the night skiing was canceled. Thankfully, one snow did bring enough inches for daytime fun. I happily switched to snowshoeing after deciding that perhaps the years between my last cross-country ski venture and the present might mean a mishap. Could I actually steer? Stop? Not so sure. Snowshoeing seemed like a safer bet.
As a person who hadn’t been snowshoeing before, I can vouch that if I can snowshoe, so can you. My biggest tips are: work on getting the bindings snug across your shoes, walk with a wider than normal stance otherwise one snowshoe will keep stepping on the other, and watch out for branches tucked in the snow. I got snagged a couple of times but the slower pace kept me upright.
The provided map and well-marked trails make getting lost an impossibility. Two people on staff mentioned the pink and orange strips tied around trees that marked the snowshoeing trails. A map is also provided.
While the skiing trails are wide with plenty of space for skiers to pass each other, snowshoe trails have a bushwhacking feel through the woods. Because of the small scale operation of Maple Corner Farm, only a few people were skiing and one or two others were snowshoeing. Much of the afternoon was spent enjoying solitude.
As I moved through the trees, listening to the crunching of the snowshoes on the packed snow, it felt like a New England winter scene postcard come to life. It is a trip through a Robert Frost poem, particularly late afternoon when the moon is visible.
If my snowshoes were a horse, it would have been a “Stopping by Woods on a Snowing Evening” experience. Fortunately, it’s not miles to get back to the lodge where a warm fire waits.
The lodge, a converted red painted farm building is part ski and snowshoe rental, part snack bar/restaurant and part maple products bounty country store. It’s a cozy, non-fussy place to hang out.
This is where pancakes with real maple syrup are served up on Saturdays and Sundays until 2 pm through the middle of April. I added strips of crisp bacon to my order of one blueberry pancake. If pancakes aren’t your thing, soups, sandwiches and more are on the menu.
Whether one cross-country skis or snowshoes, a trip to Maple Corner Farm is worth the drive. The country roads that wind through a farm dotted landscape edged by woods provide gorgeous views of the Berkshire Mountains where small towns steeped in history entice one to stop.
Unfortunately, I only had a day to explore, but Maple Corner Farm gave a perfect taste. New England is calling me back for more.
If you go:
I went to Maple Corner Farm via Bradley International Airport in Hartford. It’s about a 40 minute drive.
Pair Maple Corner Farm with a stay at Green Acres Bed & Breakfast in Simsbury, CT for weekend perfection.
Here, husband and wife duo Jim Christopher and Cathy Carpino welcome guests with unrivaled hospitality to their circa 18th century farmhouse home. Jim is a gourmet cook with a passion for interior design. Review to follow. Green Acres is about 45 minutes from Maple Corner Farm and a half hour from the airport. The whole loop is less than 70 miles.
There is a Groupon for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing at Maple Corner Farm that makes the cost almost half off. For $15 this is one great time.