Skiing on Moosehead Lake at The Birches Resort
Angela Arno, of Bowerbank, and Melanie Brooks, of Orono, cross-country ski on Moosehead Lake near The Birches Resort in Rockwood. (Portland Phoenix/Shannon Bryan)
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Maybe it’s waking up to views of the wide white expanse of frozen Moosehead Lake. Maybe it’s the perfectly groomed cross-country skiing trails that wind through the quiet woods. Maybe it’s coming in from the snow for a hot drink or a cold beer in front of the fireplace at the lodge, where you can recline on the couch and feel your cheeks rush with warmth.

I suspect it’s a combination of these things that makes The Birches Resort in Rockwood such a treat of a getaway, with a rustic cabin, a hot tub, and the friendly conversation of fellow guests thrown in for good measure.

This lakeside resort is popular with snowmobilers (from here, you can sled to Mount Katahdin and Millinocket to the east, to Jackman and The Forks to the west, and around the Moosehead Lake Trail, more than a 100-mile loop). They even have snowmobiles to rent.

Cabin at The Birches
One of the cabins at The Birches Resort, seen from Moosehead Lake. (Portland Phoenix/Shannon Bryan)

For cross-country skiers who appreciate frozen lakes and trail solitude in spectacular parts of Maine, this is a sweet spot, too.

There are 40 miles of well-marked trails branching out from the main lodge, novice trails to more challenging terrain, where you can spend an hour or two or the whole day.

The trails spiderweb westward from Moosehead to Poplar Hill and Brassua Lake, curving through forest and fluctuating elevation. The Birches does a grand job regularly grooming, and they post trail updates on their website, so you can be aware of current conditions. Skiers can also jet out onto Moosehead and ski along the wide white sheet of ice and snow (conditions depending, of course) and take in the views of nearby Kineo. 

The Birches lounge
A guest orders a drink at the bar in the lounge at The Birches. (Portland Phoenix/Shannon Bryan)

The main lodge restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and there’s a bar where you can pull up a tree-trunk stool and sip whatever suits your fancy while you gaze out the windows to frozen Moosehead Lake. Or tuck yourself into a couch in front of the fireplace with an old book from the shelves; there’s no shortage of things to read or artifacts to peruse. 

There are multiple lodging options at The Birches. You can rent a room at the lodge or a rustic cabin on Moosehead Lake. There are also modern vacation homes for larger groups and Kozy Kabins and Wilderness Yurts. Lodging and trails are dog-friendly, too. 

We stayed in one of the lakeside cabins, which had one private bedroom and a loft with three twin beds, as well as a small kitchen. We stayed toasty with the help of a wood stove, and it was a delight to wake up in the morning and look out onto the lake as we made breakfast. I was so enthralled, I put on my snowshoes and charged out onto the lake as the sun was coming up. 

In the warmer months, you can return here for fun on the lake, fishing, hiking, and even seaplane rides. But winter at The Birches is a nice blend of wilderness solitude while still being close to things like groomed trails, a hot tub, and a bar.

Freelance writer Shannon Bryan lives in South Portland and is the founder of fitmaine.com, where she writes about the coolest ways to be active and get outdoors in Maine.

The Birches sign
A sign directing the way to The Birches Resort in Rockwood. (Portland Phoenix/Shannon Bryan)

The Birches Resort, 281 The Birches Road, Rockwood. More than 40 miles of marked, groomed trails, ranging in difficulty from novice to high intermediate. Nordic skiing trail passes are $11 adults/$8 kids for a half-day (half-day begins at noon) or $14 adults/$10 kids for a full day (full-day rate includes use of the hot tub and sauna). FMI: www.birches.com.