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Monday, Sep 25, 2023

A Backcountry Retreat at Our Burgin Lodge

For my first installation of the Mountain Club’s Fortnightly Feature column, I thought it would be timely to introduce or, for many, re-introduce the recently constructed Burgin Lodge on Middlebury’s special Bread Loaf lands.

Now in its second year as a backcountry retreat for the college community, the Burgin Lodge was built in memoriam of Ian Burgin ’08 whose passion for the outdoors, the Mountain Club and love of the now-closed Worth Mountain Lodge was the inspiration and spirit that brought the idea of a new Middlebury wilderness cabin to fruition. I am forever grateful for the family, donors, planners, builders, Ian’s friends and the many others involved in making this project happen.

Situated in a beautiful maple-beech hardwood forest in the Bread Loaf Conservation Area, supported by rich amber beams of locally harvested old-growth hemlock and outfitted with a toasty wood stove and roomy bunks to comfortably sleep a dozen, this cabin always gives me goosebumps when I unlock its door and waft its idiosyncratic woodsy scent of white pine, maple, oak, and hemlock — all the species used in its construction. I find it truly unprecedented and unique for a college like Middlebury to have such a beautiful resource.

During the winter, the cabin is very convenient to access either on skis or snowshoes; traveling without skis or snowshoes is not allowed as it damages the groomed nordic trails. As we are now in the snowless, warmer months, walking to it through Bread Loaf’s conserved forests is a pleasure. The trailhead starts at the Bread Loaf Campus’ parking area, with specially marked Burgin Lodge guest parking spots.

The designated route, marked on a map received with the key, begins from the parking area, crosses the bridge on the northern end of the Fields and connects with the First Loop trail on the other side of Steam Mill Road. At the intersection on First Loop, guests make a right onto Frost which winds its way through a beautiful beech-maple forest on the outside edge of the Nordic trail network, reaching the cabin after about two miles. Be sure to bring a headlamp and be aware that navigating the trails for the first time, especially at night, can sometimes be difficult.

If you have interest in getting off campus for a night (or two or three . . .), you can reserve it by logging onto the Mountain Club’s reservation system, Ideal Logic (go/ideal). One reservation accommodates up to four people. The cabin sleeps a maximum of 12 people per night and thus could be shared among multiple groups.

For a very large group that has interest in reserving the entire cabin, three reservations among 12 people will have to be made. Each reservation costs $5 to help maintain the cabin. The cabin comes stocked with a hefty Coleman cooking stove and fuel. Other camping gear that anyone may need can be borrowed from the Gear Room in FIC on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

If you do not have access to a car and would like to go, there is an ACTR bus stop at Bread Loaf. Guests should expect to bring plenty of water when there is no snow to melt, as the site surrounding the lodge is very dry. It is primitive with neither electricity nor running water, and it has a privy in the back that functions as a toilet.

Spending a night at the lodge is a wonderful nature experience that I highly recommend any student take advantage of while they are here at the college!

Ian’s legacy lives on!