This Woodsy Cabin Retreat Feels Like a Summer Camp for Adults
River Mountain is part back-to-nature solitude, part by-the-bonfire communal fun.
For most city dwellers, the wilderness is appealing precisely because of what it isn’t: full of other people. River Mountain, nestled in the woods three and a half hours west of Philly, has a different philosophy. Everything here — from the communal bedrooms to the nightly bonfires — is designed to get strangers acquainted with one another. No wonder: Until the pandemic forced a change in plans, the property was intended as a summer camp for kids (hence those shared bedrooms).
Now, River Mountain, open since last September, feels like an upscale hostel, the sort of place where you can show up solo and soon find yourself sitting around a fire, drinking beers with a group of strangers till the wee hours of the night.
Where You’ll Stay
Each of the property’s four main cabins contains 12 sleeping “pods,” stacked like bunks, with curtains for privacy. (The top pods have skylights for bedtime stargazing.) For more solitude, book a personal tipi, or the closest thing River Mountain has to traditional accommodations: a private lodge room, which sleeps six (albeit still in pods). Rates start at $52 per night for a single pod and $220 for a tipi; private lodge rooms start at $220.
What You’ll Do
On River Mountain’s 150 acres, located alongside a historic Native American trading route that later became part of the Underground Railroad, there’s plenty to keep you occupied, from fishing and disc golf to the secluded grove of hammocks ideal for reading and birdwatching. A local yoga instructor leads weekend classes, and the Buchanan State Forest, just down the road, provides ample hiking trails and Narnia-esque woods to explore.
The Eating and Drinking Sitch
No-fuss breakfast and lunch — think mini frittatas and sandwich wraps — are served in a circa-1807 log cabin. For dinner, River Mountain offers a small selection of fare (salmon, tofu, sirloin) for DIY cooking at one of the many charcoal grills on-site. Happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. means amber ale from nearby Olde Bedford Brewing Company and complimentary sangria. Then end the night with s’mores toasted over the open fire.
Good to Know
1. Don’t expect hotel-level service.
Between the grill-it-yourself dinners and the fact there are just 12 showers on the property, this is more elevated camping than five-star resort.
2. There’s no cell service in these parts.
But there is speedy internet, so the hideaway is well suited to remote work. There’s even a conference room where you can take calls.
3. Make time for a little road trip.
Just 30 minutes away is downtown Bedford, where you’ll find a taste of civilization: Founders Crossing, an indoor flea market, sells everything from records to antique furniture, and Lifestyle Nextdoor, a coffee and lunch joint, wouldn’t be out of place in Fishtown.
Published as “Weekending at … River Mountain” in the July 2021 issue of Philadelphia magazine.