Carrabassett Valley couple funds new Maine Huts & Trails alpine lodge

Maine Huts & Trails will open a new alpine lodge this winter, expanding their extensive trail network in western Maine. The Stratton Brook Hut is the fourth of 12 planned backcountry eco-lodges, all connected by 180 miles of trails that thread through the state’s scenic western mountains region. The “hut” is scheduled to open to guests on Dec. 21, after a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Courtesy of Maine Huts & Trails
A rendering of the Maine Huts & Trails Stratton Brook Hut in Carrabassett Valley which will be completed and open for visitors on Dec. 21, 2012.

This planned 180 mile connected hut-to-hut trail will be the longest groomed ski trail in America.

The Stratton Brook Hut is located in Carrabassett Valley and provides excellent access to Maine’s many 4,000-foot peaks. It will be the first hut within Maine Huts & Trails to have an alpine setting, offering spectacular views of both the Carrabassett Valley and Sugarloaf Mountain.

The hut was made possible by a donation from Clem and Rolande Begin, local residents and major supporters of Maine Huts & Trails.

“I would just like to promote the tourist industry in Franklin County and Carrabassett Valley, and Larry Warren, who started the Maine Huts & Trails years ago, is one of my friends,” Clem Begin said in a recent phone interview. “So I formed a family trust that will give money to the hut system and the school system, the library and ski club every year for 10 years. Everybody gets a check.”

Clem Begin, 74, made sure to save his donation for a hut that would be built in Franklin County, an important place to him and his family. He has lived in Carrabassett Valley for the past 50 years, and he says that he is the town’s oldest year-round resident. He and his wife raised two daughters there, and they now enjoy visits from five grandchildren.

Clem Begin moved to western Maine in 1962-63 from Lake Megantic in Quebec.

“The town wasn’t even formed then,” he said. “The town was formed in ’72. It was Jerusalem Township in the old days.”

“All the people in the region are basically nice people,” he continued. “And in the beginning, when you only have 25 people in town, everyone becomes a friend, so we all know each other.”

After working as a hotel chef for 18 years, he got into the construction business and made his money building condominiums and lodges in the region. He and his wife now own a number of rental properties throughout the state, as well as a golf course, where they live, work and play.

Photo courtesy of John Orcutt. The new Stratton Brook Hut, to open Dec. 21, 2012, on the Maine Huts & Trails network, offers a stunning view of Carrabassett Valley in fall 2012.

The hut that the couple funded, Stratton Brook Hut, will have ten rooms, four of which are private, and will sleep a total of 44 people. It will be accessible via a 3- to 4-mile trail from a new trailhead parking area off Route 27, just north of the Sugarloaf access road.

“The hut-to-hut system gives unprecedented access to one of the most scenic stretches of mountains, forests, lakes and waterfalls in the eastern U.S.,” said said Nicole Freedman, Executive Director of Maine Huts & Trails, in a recent press release. “It has been specifically designed to make minimal impact on this region’s outstanding natural resources ensuring it will be preserved and enjoyed for many generations.”

Courtesy of Maine Huts & Trails
Maine Huts & Trails Stratton Brook Hut contractor Dutch Demshar (left) stands with state Senator Tom Saviello at the Stratton Brook Hut construction site in Carrabassett Valley in fall 2012.

Maine Huts & Trails is a nonprofit organization that contributes to the economic, social and natural environment of Maine’s western mountain region.

All huts at Maine Huts & Trails feature best-in-class amenities, and their strategic locations and proximity to trails facilitates activities such as hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, skiing and snowshoeing. Hut staff provide hearty, home-cooked meals using locally sourced organic ingredients. And at the end of the day, guests can relax in comfortable beds. Furthermore, these backcountry dwellings include bathrooms with hot showers. And if recreationists don’t feel like hauling in their gear, shuttles will transport it from hut to hut.

For information and to book your stay, visit www.mainehuts.org or call 265-2400.  Book by Dec. 15 to take advantage of Maine Huts & Trails’ winter sale. Members can book weekday stays for just $49 and for nonmembers, $64 (a savings of $20 off), for visits between Dec. 21 and Jan. 21, at all huts, including the new Stratton Brook Hut. Guests must reference the “Winter 2012 Sale” to take advantage of the limited-time savings. 

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Professionally, Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the "Outdoor" and "Living" pages. She's a wilderness romper and fashion-forward bookworm.