It’s Friday afternoon. John and I are on the road and making our way up to Sugarloaf, trying to beat the storm while listening to The Moth, a free podcast that we’ve both grown very fond of over the past couple of months. If you’ve never listened to it before, I highly recommend it. Tag line: True Stories Told Live.
We made it up to Sugarloaf with day light to spare and immediately made our way to the hot tub, Landshark in hand. As we approached the hot tub, we noticed a family of three soaking their tired muscles and had a very pleasant conversation about their day on the mountain and their plans for the remainder of the weekend. The father started talking about a hike that they had done the day before, and he seemed to be quite pleased with their experience- cold weather and snow covered paths included. This prompted John and I to instantly ask for more details, knowing that although Saturday would bring great snow conditions on the mountain, our season passes were once again blacked out due to vacation week. The father continued to describe the hike as a part of the Poplar Stream Falls trail, (accessible on foot or cross-country skis) , and he talked of a quaint “off the beaten path” hut that offered cozy surroundings and a very tasty, reasonably priced meal for anyone who made it to the front door. John and I both being big fans of anything referred to as “off the beaten path” made it our plan to embark on this journey the following day.
After our new found friends departed, John and I sat in the hot tub with a cloud-obstructed view of the face of Sugarloaf, snow crashing south and at times blasting our heated bodies with a refreshing coolness that encouraged an extended stay. After our dip John worked hard to start what he called “a fire by miracle”, (due to the soaked wood we were forced to use), while I queued up The Help, which we ordered on Netflix just in time for the Oscars. Our evening ended with a crackling fire and snow falling outside.
We awoke on Saturday morning in no rush- knowing that our hike was only two and a half miles each way. We were slightly disappointed that we wouldn’t be making an appearance on the mountain with reports of almost 10” of snow on the ground and the news that they had just opened Brackett Basin, Sugarloaf’s newest terrain, for the first time this season. Alas, we geared up for our hike and headed out with high hopes of beautiful scenery and what we knew would be great company.
The scenery on this trail was absolutely breathtaking. Hiking was a bit challenging due to the soft snow on the ground, but we were both happy to get in a good workout and arrived at the Poplar Stream Falls Hut with an appetite ready to be quenched! On the menu of fully home cooked items: Beef Chili, Chicken & Rice Soup, PB&J, fresh Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, and finally, melt-in-your-mouth Cornbread. We decided to give it all a try and ordered one of everything (with the exception of the cookies- we had four of those.) The food was hands down amazing, and honestly, I’m still consumed with thoughts of when we can hike there for dinner. What I would fondly describe as a comfy haven for the hungry hiker, the Poplar Stream Falls Hut has it all: an upstairs library with books, puzzles and games to keep you busy for hours; a warming room provided to dry your boots, jacket, pants and soaked soaks; lounging chairs, couches and picnic –style tables for sitting, talking, eating or just hanging out; a staff full of friendly, informative people; and a kitchen that’s got it going on- big time.
Next time you find yourself at Sugarloaf with a few hours to spare, check out this awesome hike and hut: it’s truly a hidden gem nestled amongst the trees of the Carrabassett Valley.