No-frills ski and stay
HAWLEY - Looking for a no-frills vacation in the woods? From December through late March, Stump Sprouts, a mountain-top lodge just this side of the Berkshires, offers 25 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails among ice-tinseled trees and snow-covered brooks. At the summit, skiers are rewarded by views that include New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock.
The no-frills part? Guests bring their own bedding, including sheets, towels, and pillows. Meals are taken together in a common dining room. The lodge is heated with wood, as is an outdoor sauna; solar panels provide all electricity. Bathrooms are shared, though they’re clean and plentiful. Cellphones don’t work here; there is no television and only limited satellite Internet. The lodge weekend rate, $175 per person, includes two nights of lodging, all skiing and trail fees, plus six homemade meals. Specialties include pesto and a raspberry crisp put up from the summer garden. To bring costs down even more, groups that stay during the week in winter can arrange to do their own cooking for about half price.
Lloyd and Suzanne Crawford’s Stump Sprouts Cross-Country Ski Center and Guest Lodge, now in its 35th year, offers cross-country skiing by the week or the weekend for couples, families, or groups. In the Scandinavian-style lodge, seven rooms on three levels accommodate about 20 people; three additional rooms in the owners’ 1840s post-and-beam farmhouse across the way can sleep six or seven more.
The mountain’s 8-foot-wide trails are groomed for classic skiing and snowshoeing. The skiing can be challenging, though most skiers in reasonably good shape can handle it. Trails range from 1,400 feet in elevation starting at the lodge to 2,000 feet at the summit. “I wish we had something flat for beginners, but the terrain doesn’t give us that up here,’’ Suzanne said.
The name, Stump Sprouts, signifies “new life from old roots,’’ Lloyd said. “This place was a working farm for generations. We recycled and repurposed buildings and old roads to create what we have now.’’
In 1977, the couple arrived with the goal of developing a ski center and lodge, though today it also operates as a retreat center during the off season. The 400-acre mountaintop property had been a dairy farm with a maple sugar operation and apple orchard in the 1840s.
“It was my grandparents’ land, a big chunk of land in the middle of nowhere,’’ Lloyd said. “They bought it back in the 1960s but didn’t do much with it. Half of the farmhouse was settling into the mud. The road washed out frequently.’’
With the help of friends, they completed the lodge in 1980, using timber cut on site. In a stroke of whimsy, Lloyd lined the lodge’s interior walls with siding from the old sugarhouse and barn. At the center of the great room, a freestanding fireplace reminiscent of the 1960s invites skiers to sidle up with a cup of cocoa; floor-to-ceiling windows face north, offering a panorama of the hills clear into Vermont. Lloyd made the blond wood tables and benches in the dining room.
If you’re in the area, Stump Sprouts also offers day skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating with rentals at the farmhouse.
Oh, and that one-mile road to the top of the mountain that used to wash out? It’s steep. But it’s plowed and sanded frequently by the town. “The only time you can’t get up it is during a snow storm,’’ Lloyd said. In that case, he’ll come down and get you.
Suzanne recommends calling ahead in the early fall for ski season room reservations. “We tend to have groups that return year after year,’’ she said. “But not every group uses every room, so if you’re flexible and persistent,’’ you’re likely to snag a space.
Aubin Tyler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.