Fall Weekend Getaway: Savage River Lodge in Frostburg, Maryland
This sounds ridiculous, but I’m serious: The 4.5-hour drive from Philadelphia to Savage River Lodge — particularly that last stretch on I-68 — is just the thing to get you in the mood for a weekend of camping. The road gently winds along the mountains of Maryland, giving you near-panoramic views of peaks and cliffs and the little villages nestled between them. Time starts to move as slow as molasses. Philly? What is Philly, again?
Despite its remoteness, this retreat — a combination of cabins and yurts — still manages to pack enough luxury to make you (almost) forget that you’re going to be camping. In a yurt. A yurt. The sturdy circular structure features all the trappings of a high-end hotel room: king bed with silky sheets, a bathroom that rivals those found in Main Line manses, pristine white robes, two comfy chairs, a leather couch, a mini fridge, coffee, tea, a French press, and a deck (a deck, for chrissakes!). Staffers will ferry wine to your yurt, and every morning they deliver a complimentary breakfast (carrot muffins and orange juice for me) in a picnic basket. I never knew something could be twee and rugged at the same time.
The only downside? No wi-fi. But maybe that’s an upside in disguise. My inability to follow every fever-dream update of the presidential campaign on social media meant that I actually hiked — several times — on some of the 14 miles of trails maintained by the lodge. While they’re manageable enough for newbies, they also overlap with the Mount Aetna Tract of the Savage River Forest, a fun fact that will satisfy hard-core hikers. As deer, frogs and other critters passed me on the trail amid high grasses and even higher trees, it was impossible not to bliss out. For an even more intimate experience with Mother Nature, bike on the Great Allegheny Passage (the lodge will hook you up with two bikes and a shuttle for $230), or go fly-fishing in sun-dappled streams.
And if you really need your Twitter fix, you can walk three minutes from your yurt down a sprawling driveway, where you’ll find a lodge. You can get wi-fi there, kind of. More importantly, there’s a bar, with good craft beer and solid nightcaps served by an avuncular bartender, where you can raise a glass to life disconnected.
Field Guide: Frostburg, Maryland Weekend Itinerary
Stay: Savage River Lodge, 1600 Mount Aetna Road, Frostburg, Maryland; yurts start at $255 a night.
Play: Book one of the lodge’s private or semi-private fly-fishing trips ($175 per person for a half day), or bring your bikes and the lodge will shuttle you to prime cycling points along the nearby Great Allegheny Passage. Relax post-journey with an in-yurt massage. Drive 20 minutes to Grantsville to shop, eat, and visit the Spruce Forest Artisan Village, where historic log cabins have been transformed into artists’ studios.
Eat: Get your dinner delivered to your yurt, or visit the nearby Cornucopia for drinks and small plates. Or feast at the lodge’s restaurant; get a seat outside (so you can see the hummingbirds flutter around the feeders), and order the meatloaf and chicken marsala.
This article first appeared in Philadelphia magazine’s September 2016 issue.