Somewhere in a quiet corner of a forest, a cabin waits for you.
For you to light a crackling fire, to cook a steaming pot of spaghetti, to build a snowman, to start an easy conversation, to play Monopoly. It wants to make you feel like a kid again.
Ah, for a cabin in the mountains, where you can talk by the fire and secretly hope that a spring snowstorm will maroon you until next year.
There are many cabins in the wilds to rent, from a rustic lookout to a timber-framed lodge with a hot tub bubbling on the deck. Here, then, are some samples for a cozy spring weekend.
Natapoc Lodging, 12338 Bretz Road, Leavenworth, WA 98826; (509) 763-3313.
For any city dweller who has ever dreamed of a weekend home on the Wenatchee River, Natapoc is the next best thing. Each log cabin claims one to five piney acres and at least 200 feet of riverfront. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill log cabins - the newest cabin’s logs were hand-hewn last year.
Dirk and Karen Andersen’s lodgepole pine homes are stocked with everything right down to a Cuisinart. And they come for all sizes of groups, from a not-so-tiny twosome to a rambling twentysomething ($130 to $200, plus a little more for extra people). Snow options are obvious, from ski trails in Leavenworth to snowmobile terrain toward the pass. But frankly, all you’ll really want to do is soak in the hot tub.
WolfRidge Resort Route 2, Box 655, Winthrop, WA 98862; (509) 996-2828 or (800) 237-2388.
Lou and Gabrielle Childers’ outpost is perfectly situated in the Methow Valley: cross-country ski trails run right through the property, and the resort is on the river route trail to Mazama, a popular one for ski skating.
What’s more, Lou Childers, a groomer for the Methow Valley Sports Trails Association, keeps his portion of the trails extra smooth and his wood-heated rec room open to the public. So it’s no wonder this 4-year-old resort has quickly moved up in rank to become one of the key trailheads for day skiers (trail passes available; $10-$12).
Guests stay in the stunning, handcrafted log townhouses (not exactly cabins, but close enough) with cathedral ceilings, warm wood interiors, private balconies, and log furnishings - all beautifully situated on 50 acres of snow-covered meadow, aspens, and pines. The twobedroom suites include a large private deck, cathedral ceilings, and a kitchen with everything ($139), but no fireplace.
The Lodge Near Mount Rainier. 38608 State Route 706, Ashford, WA 98304; (206) 569-2312.
At 2,000 feet above sea level and a quarter mile from the pearly gates of Mount Rainier, this site doesn’t suffer from lack of snow. This lodge is the pick for families or groups (especially very large groups, say 25 people) who want to build a snowman, go inner tubing or just throw a snowball.
There are seven cabins on 16 acres; some sleep six but it’s best to hold out until you’ve found a great reason for two dozen friends to rent the largest one. You bring your own sleeping bag and towel; the industrial strength kitchen (and the stone fireplace) is equipped to handle the toughest troops.
The Logs, 9002 Mount Baker Highway, Deming, WA 98244; (360) 599-2711.
Five log cabins nestled in dense stands of alder and fir at the confluence of the Nooksack River and Canyon Creek comprise this rustic retreat. Cabins are comfortable, not luxurious; they sleep up to 10 people in bunk-bedded rooms and on pull-out couches (you can even bring your dog).
The centerpoint of each cabin is the large fireplace, built from river cobbles and slabs of Nooksack stone and stocked with lots of firewood. Each cabin also has a fully equipped kitchen, as well as a charcoal grill. With the snowboarder’s mountain just up the road, this is a great place to bring the kids.
Patterson Lake Resort. P.O. Box 1000, Winthrop, WA 98862; (509) 996-2211.
Though you have to climb a mountain to get to the hot tub (located at the mother resort, Sun Mountain Lodge), at least you’re well away from cross-country-ski central up at the big lodge - what with the rental shop, lessons, ticket purchasing, and people gawking at the $20 million improvements. Now, the construction crew has moved down the hill to icy Patterson Lake where a few of the cabins are getting their own facelifts. The newer, bigger cabins, which sleep up to six, have lofts, full kitchens and woodburning fireplaces.
Over 50 miles of well-groomed cross-country trails make this a haven for Nordic skiers (with 175 miles available throughout the valley). The Sun Mountain’s restaurant now offers a great table to every guest, whether it’s a warm spot by the massive stone fireplace or a window table with a sweeping view of the valley.
Wallowa Lake Lodge, 60060 Wallowa Lake Highway, Joseph, OR 97846; (503) 432-9821.
When the crowds are getting to you, go to the Wallowas, the forgotten mountain range in the northeastern corner of Oregon where winters are white and notoriously slow.
The rooms in this historic lodge are very small; if you want to stay more than one night, book one of the eight rustic pine cabins on the lake ($65-$85).
No pets, no phones, no smoking, no TV … so make sure not to get the one without the fireplace (they supply the wood). The terrain is primarily for backcountry skiers who know the difference between a topo map and triple A.
However, even those not versed in contour lines will enjoy Joseph, for this former logging town has become a veritable destination for big-time artists - particularly sculptors. Valley Bronze (307 W. Alder, (503) 432-7551) opened its foundry here in 1986, and spawned five others in Wallowa County. Joseph’s mother foundry - with one of the country’s largest choices of patina - is where sculptors such as George Carlson, Veryl Goodnight and David Jackman cast their art.
Austin Barton’s 14-foot bronze bronc rider bucks outside the Wild Horse Gallery (508 N Main, 503-432-4242), which displays the work of Valley Bronze artists.
Wellspring, Kernahan Road, Ashford, WA (206) 569-2514.
For over a decade, Wellspring has quietly greeted outdoor enthusiasts with two spas nestled into a sylvan glade surrounded by evergreens. Word of mouth spread quickly, and a soothing hour or two at Wellspring quickly became de rigueur for folks coming off of Mount Rainier. Trouble is, no one wanted to leave. (Nor would you, after a soak in a hot tub and a full-body massage.)
Recently, owner Sunny Thompson built three log cabins (without kitchens) on her wooded south slope; $75 includes a basket of breakfast. Phone ahead, or you’ll be left driving home in the cold.
MEMO: Stephanie Irving is senior editor at Sasquatch Books in Seattle and manages the “Best Places” series of guidebooks.