Two cabins are close to the farm; others are deep in the woods. One provides an amazing vista; another is cozily sized for just two peeps and a pup. A recently rejuvenated cabin has a skylight window; another can accommodate a whole Scout troop or small wedding party; yet another is nestled near a pond. The newest is a hand-hewn replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin, currently available for day use and a place for reflection.
I have been coming to Merck for over 40 years and have stayed in all but one of these lovely backcountry cabins. But the one I love the most is Spruce cabin.
Approximately one mile from the visitor center, up at the top of the hill off Old Town Road, tucked away in a little grove of trees, sits the most perfect cabin of all.
Upon entering, through a southwest-facing wall of windows, your eyes are drawn to the view of Mount Antone, a spectacular picture to wake up to any season of the year. The surrounding three walls all have bunks making it a nicely sized cabin for up to six happy campers. A good-sized picnic table covered with wax and graffiti provides place for hours of cardplaying fun and festive meals. Many wonderful dishes are prepared on the little woodstove, which always gives off ample heat to make the stay a cozy one. The woodshed and outhouse provide their obvious amenities and a water source is also nearby. Of course, in winter, there’s lots of snow to melt for hydration and to add to the ramen noodles.
Just across the trail to the west is a short spur up to Viewpoint. In winter, you can see the lights of West Mountain Ski Center in Glens Falls, New York. If you hike up to the cabins on the night of a full moon, forget your headlamp: the light of the moon will show you the way. A short jaunt down Old Town Road to the south brings you to the Silviculture trail, which is filled with signs containing info about Merck’s variety of trees, plants and animals. It’s a lovely spot to take the kids. At the end of the Silviculture Trail and down Schenk Road, venture to the new Thoreau cabin next to Rasey pond. All three spots are close to Spruce, making it the center of attention, and a place called home.
My advice is to try them all! Every cabin has its unique features and backcountry charm. Pick your favorite and share with your family and friends; for me, Spruce is the one that fits just right.
As a part-time Visitor Center staffer, Darla Belevich has been providing campers and other guests with knowledgeable suggestions about how best to enjoy the Merck Forest experience.