Vermont Winter Yurts At Maple Wind Farm Offer Backcountry Access
January 14, 2015
The winter yurts at Maple Wind Farm attract people from all walks of life. Over the past 16 years, the yurts have served as a weekend getaway for outdoor enthusiasts, families with young children, and groups of friends.
The 140-acre farm, located at the end of a steep, dirt road in Huntington, is home to two wood and canvas Mongolian-style yurts. The 24-foot round yurts, which sleep up to ten people, are equipped with a woodstove, bunk beds, a kitchen area, and composting outhouse.
Keep in mind that these yurts are not for “Glamping” (glamourous or luxury camping). Yurts at Maple Wind Farm are the real deal – modest, cozy, and rustic.
Beth Whiting, who owns Maple Wind Farm with her husband, Bruce Hennessey, installed the yurts after purchasing the former dairy farm in 1999. The couple has welcomed a variety of guests throughout the years, including a group of nurses from Pennsylvania and families from Connecticut who have never camped in the winter.
“You don’t have to come here and be some hardcore, backcountry skier. Some people come here and want to hike up to the Long Trail, and others want to snowshoe or cross-country ski. You can come here and just go sledding. It’s really whatever you want it to be,” says Beth.
On a recent visit to Maple Wind Farm, Beth took me on a tour of the property in an ATV with Captain, her black and white Collie. The wind was whipping and the air felt exceptionally cold (I joked to Beth that living in Burlington had softened my winter heartiness).
Still, it was easy to see the appeal of staying at the farm this time of year.
The property borders Camels Hump State Forest, and provides cross-country skiers access to the Catamount Trail. Hikers can also reach The Long Trail in about 40 minutes. Trails and open fields offer opportunities for backcountry skiing, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing.
For a more farm-stay experience, visitors are welcome to participate in farm chores or cook with food straight from the farm — grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork, poultry, and eggs.
Beyond Vermont Winter Yurts: Maple Wind Farm and Local Food
It’s worth noting that Maple Wind Farm is dedicated to producing local food using environmentally sustainable practices. The farm’s operations are based in Huntington and nearby Richmond, and includes diversified pasture-based livestock, poultry, 100 percent grass-fed beef, organic vegetables, and maple products. They sell direct-to-consumer at their farm in Huntington (by appointment), at the Richmond and Burlington farmers’ markets, and wholesale to restaurants, food markets, and coops in Vermont and throughout New England.
A year ago this week on Jan. 13, 2014, the farm lost its historic barn in Richmond to a devastating fire. The barn had housed a stock of root vegetables and frozen poultry, along with some computers and equipment, and served as the chick brooder and poultry processing space for many years. A new barn is being built and is scheduled to be completed in May.
Staying in a Winter Yurt at Maple Wind Farm
To stay in a Maple Wind Farm yurt, you’ll need to bring food supplies, sleeping bags, warm clothes, and outdoor recreation gear. Water jugs and hauling sleds are available at the farm for visitors to transport gear and supplies. It’s about a 10 minute walk (or ski) from the parking lot to the yurts.
“Guests can come and go as they like, and it’s really up to them what they want to do,” Whiting says. “Some visitors stay on the property the entire time, and others go skiing at Mad River Glen or Sugarbush. We’ve even had people drive all the way to Burlington to go out to dinner. Whatever works for our guests works for us.”
The one downside to staying in this beautiful spot? Learning that Maple Wind Farm doesn’t offer yurt rentals in the summer or fall. (The yurts are used for employee housing in the warmer months). But it’s not every day you’ll find a rural, active farm committed to making winter camping so accessible. That’s what makes Maple Wind Farm very much worth the trip.