The perfect getaway looks different for everyone. Some find respite in big, bustling cities, others in the solitude of a deep woods lean-to.
If your ideal get-out-of-Dodge retreat includes quiet time in a waterfront cabin, morning coffee on a small dock, leisurely paddles on calm stream waters, and sunset bonfires while listening to loons – then you should check out the Kennebec Land Trust’s two eco-cabins on Cobbossee Stream in West Gardiner.
The cabins offer an in-the-woods escape, but civilization is just down the road (or stream) – making it an attractive middle ground between “away from it all” and “but still close to electricity, an actual bed, and an indoor toilet.”
Both cabins are located down a private lane off the Litchfield-Hallowell Road in West Gardiner – about an hour from Portland – and require a quarter-mile walk in on an old road (wheelbarrow provided to bring in your stuff). They are also both cozied right up to the water’s edge on a mostly quiet part of the stream. But fellow humans aren’t far. You’ll spot other cabins on the steam and see paddlers paddling by.
The cabins employ a host of eco-friendly elements, like solar energy, composting toilets, and even a bat house. They’ve got gas for cooking and heat when it’s cool out, and enough electricity to run some lights (and recharge a cellphone). There’s no potable water, but there is a handpump in the kitchen that pumps in stream water for dishes.
Also: These cabins are cute as all get-out.
If the rooms of Eco-Cabin 1 look familiar, it might be because that cabin is a bit of a TV star. It was featured on season three of Maine Cabin Masters in February. A second cabin on the property – Eco-Cabin 2 – was also renovated by the show and is likewise available to rent.
The cabin renovations are part of a larger project known as a the Wakefield Wildlife Sanctuary, which boasts 113 acres and four cabins (two not yet renovated).
Eventually, the Kennebec Land Trust hopes to develop some trails and, if things go well with rentals for Eco-Cabin 1 and Eco-Cabin 2, possibly renovating the remaining two cabins as well.
The cabins and the property once belonged to the Wakefield family, who enjoyed them for more than 100 years. In 2016, the land was donated to the trust when Kendra Wakefield Shaw, the landowner, died. Well before that, Cobbossee Stream and the nearby Kennebec River were home to thousands of Abenaki people (Cobbosseecontee” is derived from an Abenaki word meaning “pleantiful with sturgeon,” according to a brief history of the property compiled by the Kennebec Land Trust. James Davis – the great-great-grandfather of Kendra Davis – began acquiring the land in 1828. He and his wife, Jane, and their children lived on the land and farmed it for several decades. The cabins were built around the turn of the twentieth century, and the property was passed from generation to generation.
Kendra herself continued to maintain the properties well into her 70s.
The recent renovations give a solid nod to the original cabins and their history. And thanks to the work of the Kennebec Land Trust, this land and those cabins are ready to welcome nature lovers and respite seekers for another 100 years.
One thing that didn’t need any updating: Cobbossee Stream (aka Cobbosseecontee Stream). We paddled it in both directions, bird spotting and chit-chatting the whole way and admiring the other stream cabins (I most admire the one with the slide going into the water).
And in the evening we made dinner and ate by the bonfire as the sun went down, listening to loons and toasting marshmallows and agreeing that we understood why the Wakefields loved it here so much.
As some of the first lucky overnighters at Eco-Cabin 1, my friends and I got to see Wakefield Wildlife Sanctuary in transition. We parked in the newly created parking lot (enough space for two cars per cabin) and took advantage of the brand-new fire pit (we approve!). We loitered on the small dock and gave an appreciative wave to the nearby shed with solar panels on top. There are a lot of fresh new things here.
There’s also still work to be done. Furnishings. Signs. Trails. All in good time.
Every stay – be it a couple of nights or a week – helps support that work. And it’s relaxing as all get-out for the people who do. I think that’s what they call a win-win.
Check out this clip from the Maine Cabin Masters renovation:
Eco-Cabins at KLT’s Wakefield Wildlife Sanctuary
Two cabins available to rent: Eco-Cabin 1 and Eco-Cabin 2. (Eco-Cabin 1 is featured in this story.)
Eco-Cabin 1 has two bedrooms and sleeps 6 people
Rent: $80 per night plus a refundable damage deposit due at the time the reservation.
Book a stay: kennebeclandtrust.lodgify.com
This post was originally published in June 2019.