February 2012 Issue
Escape to these secluded spots that offer both rustic charm and creature comforts.
For some, a wilderness experience involves a backpack and a tent, a long hike into deep woods and a sleeping bag on the ground. For these hardy souls, seclusion is the goal and luxury is a self-inflating sleeping pad and some chardonnay from a bag.
For the other 99 percent, however, the outdoor experience is more readily enjoyed when the night can be spent on a pillow-top mattress under a real roof.
For a romantic getaway, the sweet spot is found at places that combine the isolation of a remote location with the comforts of fine furnishings. A true escape into a natural setting can be inspiring and therapeutic for a couple, says Mimi Morrison, who runs Touch the Earth Adventures, an outdoor retreat program in Athens.
“The Earth is healing; it’s nurturing. We have to step away from the electronics and the expectations of our daily lives,” Morrison says. “For me, there is no better place to be than with the Earth and the people I care about. It’s quiet. You can listen to each other."
We looked for places that offer unmatched solitude combined with hosts who consider hospitality more of a calling than a business. These rentals may not all have Internet connections or even television, but you will be able to listen to each other.
Coyote Creek Farm
Curious black Angus will lift their heads and watch as you follow the tree-lined drive on this 62-acre farm past the owners’ beautiful brick home, through a couple of cattle gates and down a hill into a woody draw. There, next to a small stream, sits a bit of history.
Actually, several bits of history: Alice and Mark Wilson have reassembled hand-hewn beams, plank flooring and antique fixtures from old barns, log cabins and homesteads throughout Appalachia to create what appears, at first glance, to be a genuine log cabin from the 1800s. Spend some time in this intimate retreat, however, and you’ll discover some amenities that early settlers didn’t enjoy, beginning with central heat and air.
Tall, eight-paned windows from an old farmhouse frame the entry, providing plenty of light to the front room. There’s a wood-burning fireplace surrounded by comfy chairs and a stereo. The bath includes an antique claw-foot tub, but also a modern shower with a slip-proof basin formed of the same mortar used to chink the logs.
The furniture is simple but comfortable, with some items picked up at antique shops or auctions and at least one — the queen-sized bed in the loft — custom-made by nearby Amish craftsmen. A second loft above the bathroom allows low-clearance sleeping space for children, but essentially this is a one-couple cabin.
Nightly rates range from $150 to $175 and include a homemade breakfast delivered to your door by Alice Wilson, who prepares dishes like baked French toast or egg casserole, accompanied with fresh fruit and breakfast meat.
The owners haven’t built trails yet, but you’re free to roam the woods around you or visit nearby Serpent Mound, Rocky Fork Lake or Paint Creek State Park. 937/393-5166, coyotecreekfarmoh.com
New Marshfield, Ohio
Parents of Ohio University students who want to visit their children away from the bedlam of campus often find their way to Bittersweet Farm, a small collection of modern log cabins located on a 300-acre private game preserve about 15 miles from Athens.
Steve and Toni Jo Ramsey have three cabins for rent, all strategically situated for seclusion, but the favorite for honeymoons and other romantic getaways is a small but cheerful chalet known as the Potting Shed. From the outside, it looks like a hut you’d find perched along a remote mountain trail, but inside, the cabin is warm and cozy, with polished wood walls and floors and an open, airy floor plan.
The ground floor features a small space for relaxing and a minimalist kitchen that includes a dorm-sized fridge and a two-burner stove. A set of steep steps leads to the loft bedroom. The front porch offers additional sitting space, as does the hot tub on the elevated back deck.
Romantic as it is, the Potting Shed might seem a little cramped for some, in which case Steve Ramsey recommends the Christmas Cabin, a two-bedroom home with a full kitchen that is even more secluded than the shed. It’s the sole cabin on a 12-acre piece of the property and has a back deck that boasts a beautiful view of the surrounding hills.
Visitors can walk the sparsely used roads or take a short drive to any number of public lands, including Zaleski State Forest, Lake Hope State Park and the Wayne National Forest. 740/664-6011, bittersweetfarmbb.com
The Cabin at Glenking
Step onto the broad porch of this 1,000-square-foot cabin in the early morning hours and you can watch the sun come up, listen for the call of resident owls and maybe get a whiff of Marilyn King’s sour-cream coffee cake before she delivers it to your door.
Marilyn and her husband Chris built the log cabin in 1980 as a family project, with help from their teenage children. The two-bedroom cabin, nestled in the mixed hardwood and pine forest of their certified tree farm, was the King family retreat until after Chris retired from his ophthalmology practice and the couple settled into a larger house about 60 yards away.
The Kings’ home and the cabin share the 68-acre tree farm in the rolling hills just outside of Minerva, providing ample privacy and some scenic (if strenuous) hiking for visitors. Many enjoy the hike, as well as fishing and swimming in the pond. But those who come for a romantic getaway usually don’t see much of the grounds, Marilyn says.
“If they just want to get away and they haven’t had any time together, they just close the blinds and we don’t see them,” she adds.
Rates range from $100 to $120 a night and include a deluxe continental breakfast. However, the remoteness of the Glenking cabin generally puts it out of reach for a winter retreat. The farm’s steep drive and the rural road it is on are often inaccessible without four-wheel drive, so generally the cabin is closed from Jan. 1–March 15. Call and you might convince them to open in the winter, but you’d better have four-wheel drive, or you might get stuck and have to spend an extra night.
On the other hand, would that be so bad? 330/895-2212, cabinatglenkingbandb.com
A Cabin on the Hill
New Matamoras, Ohio
Tucked away in the heart of the Wayne National Forest, about 30 miles from Marietta, A Cabin on the Hill occupies the shell of what was once a log church constructed in 1842.
The cabin, perched alone on a hill overlooking the Ohio River, was moved from its original location (about six miles away) in the 1980s. When Ginny Narsete purchased it seven years ago, she added running water and electricity and furnished it in rustic comfort, with furniture built of recycled barn wood and an antique claw-foot tub perfect for luxurious bubble baths. Hiking trails wind through the 90-acre property, which is graced by thousands of wildflowers in the spring.
“My husband and I wanted to go someplace for our 25th anniversary that was away from the typical resort crowds [and] would give us complete ‘down time’ to relax and connect,” recalls a former guest, Toni Kellar of Senacaville. “The combination of [A Cabin on the Hill’s] rustic but very classy charm and complete privacy was just what we were looking for.”
With a two-night minimum stay, the cabin rents for $189 to $239 a night. There are two bedrooms and two baths, making it a fine place for two couples or a family as well. Breakfast for the first morning is provided, with eggs, breakfast meat and fresh fruit ready to prepare in the fully appointed kitchen. 740/228-1099, a-cabin-on-the-hill.com