By Lianna Lee
’Tis the season for us to help you find beautiful gifts that are as exciting to give as to receive! In the spirit of shopping local and celebrating the Northern Forest region, I gathered recommendations from my Northern Forest Center colleagues. Our staff spend hundreds of hours on the road to work with community partners, assist rural businesses, and help create bold possibilities that give rise to vibrant Northern Forest communities. Along the way they see some great gift ideas.
In the spirit of Living the New Forest Future, we hope you’ll consider shopping local and supporting family-owned businesses that help connect their customers and communities with our forested landscape this year.
Delightful Wood Products
The sturdiness and durability of wood are reassuring and will stand the test of time. For the thrift-store-furniture person in your life who deserves something special this year, how about a ready-to-ship table from Vermont Farm Table. Made from locally sourced wood, these tables provide the perfect gathering space for dinner parties and more. The Center was delighted to assist all the wood products businesses in this section through our Wood Products Innovation program, which supports training and business improvements to keep them on the competitive edge.
- Rule number one of kids is to distract them with the unexpected. Be the cool aunt or uncle this holiday season when you surprise them with a personalized, eco-friendly wooden name train from Maple Landmark in Middlebury, VT.
- J.K. Adams based out of Dorset, VT, is your one-stop-shop for cutting and carving boards, rolling pins, and dining accessories made from local wood. The Center helped the J.K. Adams team implement lean principles throughout their workflow.
- Help someone upgrade their salt and pepper situation with this set from Fletchers’ Mill in New Vineyard, ME. Excellent host or hostess gift and Wirecutter approved.
- Use Timeless Frames out of Watertown, NY, to send family members a beautifully framed image from your latest family reunion.
- Turn heads and elevate salads to an art form when you serve them in an upscale Andrew Pearce Bowl. Visit the store in Taftsville, VT.
- Indulge in gifting the timelessness of Charles Shackleton Furniture and Miranda Thomas Pottery this year. Located in Bridgewater, VT, they’re known for their quality and craftsmanship.
- Specializing in residential kitchens, custom cabinets, and commercial projects, NorthWoods Manufacturing in Lancaster, NH, offers you the opportunity to build the kitchen of your dreams.
- Help the DIY multi-tasker take their woodcrafting skills to the next level with a class at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, ME.
Unforgettable Outdoor Adventures
Mountain views, pristine lakes, and endless forest landscapes are what make the Northern Forest a beautiful and unforgettable region. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy a winter adventure with your friends and family. Whether you are exploring a Community Forest or discovering mountain biking’s best kept secret in the Borderlands, fun awaits in vibrant rural towns throughout the Northern Forest.
- Select one of the Bike Borderlands trail networks to visit and plan a winter fatbike weekend away for your favorite MTB crew. The seven destinations offer the right terrain for any rider: Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, VT; Kingdom Trails in East Burke, VT; PRKR MTN in Littleton, NH; Profile Trails in Franconia, NH; Coos Trails in Gorham, NH; Mahoosuc Pathways in Bethel, ME; Carrabassett Valley Trails in Carrabassett Valley, ME; and Circuit Frontieres, just over the border in East Hereford, Quebec.
- While in the North Country, stop by Littleton Bike & Fitness to shop local and hear the latest about trail conditions.
- Splurge on a custom-made mountain bike from Solace Cycles, in Westport, NY. Aggressive, purpose-built bikes, designed for the Adirondacks and made to ride anywhere.
- If you have recently heard “earn your turns” and “skinning” dropped into everyday conversation, consider giving your skier a backcountry skiing lesson with International Mountain Equipment guides in North Conway, NH. Help them tackle more challenging terrain, or experience going off-piste for the first time.
- Celebrate Community Forests and local trail building efforts with a gift membership to Mahoosuc Pathways, in Bethel, ME. The Center recently teamed up with Mahoosuc Pathways and the Trust for Public Land to create a new 978-acre Community Forest. Stop by DiCocoa’s Bakery for homemade baked goods and visit Good Food Store on your way out of town for hard to find craft beers and delicious snacks.
- Gift your friends and family an outdoor winter photo session with Emily Lord Photography. Based out of southern New Hampshire and Maine, Lord specializes in capturing light-filled images of people enjoying nature.
- Ice skate on the longest, Nordic-style ice skating trail in the country on Lake Morey, in Fairlee, VT. Ice skates may be rented from Nordic Skate in Norwich or at Lake Morey Resort’s Skate Shack.
- Plan a summer paddling trip with Raquette River Outfitters. Rent a boat and gear for any length paddling trip near Tupper Lake. Route planning, guiding, and shuttle services are also available. Combine with a visit to Raquette River Brewing and pick up something from Spruce & Hemlock to celebrate Tupper Lake.
- A membership with the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters helps support the creation of maps, signs, and environmental education programs in the National Monument.
- Explore the best of the best outdoor guides and lodging options through Maine Woods Discovery. Navigate Maine by dogsled, XC ski, or canoe and turn to experts to help you plan the trip of a lifetime.
Scrumptious Food and Drinks
Catching up with a friend and treating them to a drink or delicious meal is a welcome gift no matter the time of year. If you find yourself nearby, stop in and enjoy any of these beloved community hubs.
- Our first stop is the White Mountain town of Lancaster, NH, to visit the Root Seller — a locavore marketplace, indoor farmers market, and natural food store. The Root Seller will be expanding and relocating to the Parker J. Noyes building, which the Center is renovating on Main Street. One door down is the Polish Princess, with delicious pastry and good food. Wander over to the Copper Pig for a pint and dig into a delicious plate of tacos.
- We all have a friend or family member who enjoys their maple syrup with a side of pancakes. Center President Rob Riley likes visiting Butternut Mountain Farm in Morrisville, VT, to stock up for his family. Click the following links to find a maple producer near you in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, or New York.
- Northwoods Gourmet Girl in Greenville, ME, offers “gourmet sauces, dips and jellies that make great stocking stuffers,” said Senior Program Director Mike Wilson. The Center has helped Gourmet Girl open a full destination retail shop in downtown Greenville!
- Turning Page Farm and Brewery in Monson, ME, sells hand-crafted Red Ale and American Pale Ale and provides you with the opportunity to watch goats play on the farm. The Center has supported the farm’s development as an agrotourism destination.
- A few of our favorite cafes in the Northern Forest. When in Norway, ME, visit Café Nomad for coffee, food, and local art. Stop by Café Lotti in East Burke, VT, before embarking on a mountain biking adventure. Fuel up at Inkwell Café in Littleton, NH, and enjoy a peaceful moment by the Ammonoosuc River before heading into the mountains. Sip a latte from Origin Coffee in Saranac Lake, NY, while you explore the welcoming stores downtown.
- End the day with a craft beer at any of these breweries in northern New Hampshire. In Bethlehem, the fun atmosphere and live music at Rek-lis Brewing keep the good times going late into the night. Iron Furnace Brewing is the perfect place to hang out and relax after mountain biking in Franconia. Arrive early to beat the crowds and snag a table at Schilling Beer Company in Littleton. The thin crust pizza is excellent and not to be missed – pairs well with the always-on-tap Erastus.
- Noon Mark Diner pies are legendary among locals and visitors alike in Keene Valley, NY. Order one online today to taste what the hype is all about.
- Crumb Bar in Littleton, NH is a favorite among Center staff. Serving up delightfully flaky pastries, creative flavor combinations, and over the top cakes, this bakery is always a good bet.
- Designed with adventure in mind, enjoy unique accommodations at Hub North in Gorham, NH, a perfect place to stay with endless opportunities to play outside. In summer, glamp inside a yurt and access mountain bike trails out the front door. While in town visit Libby’s Bistro & SAaLT PUB for locally sourced, funky fine dining from Chef Liz Jackson.
- Unplug and escape in Quimby Country, a 3-season camp for families in Averill, VT. Stay in rustic charming cabins and spend your days relaxing by the lake or exploring the many trails by foot or mountain bike.
- The Deer’s Head Inn, in Elizabethtown, NY, is the oldest tavern in the Adirondacks. Stay for a relaxing weekend and enjoy locally sourced food at the inn’s eatery.
- Experience the same trails and training facilities that Olympic athletes use year-round at Craftsbury Outdoor Center. Tucked away in the charming town of Craftsbury, VT, the XC ski trails are seemingly endless.
- Enjoy a day or weekend of pampering at the Spa at Blair Hill in Greenville, ME. The inn overlooks Moosehead Lake and provides visitors with five-star luxury. The Center assisted the spa to improve its digital marketing.
Online Shopping for a Good Cause
Support the special places where you enjoy recreating by shopping online to support great causes. All proceeds in the links below go directly toward supporting local organizations.
- Live the New Forest Future and share your Northern Forest stoke while wearing a Center trucker hat. The perfect lid for any activity! Make a gift of $35 today as a new donor and we’ll send you a free trucker hat! Already support our work? Increase your annual donation and receive a free hat!
- “Don’t Millinocket ‘til you try it,” is a one-of-a-kind t-shirt created to help support the Katahdin Gear Library in Millinocket, ME. Members of the Millinocket Memorial Library (MML) can check out seasonal outdoor recreation items such as XC skis or mountain bikes from the gear library for free. The Center recently partnered with MML on a New Markets Tax Credit project to help renovate the new library.
- Support Baxter State Park in Millinocket, ME, through the Friends of Baxter State Park Store. Prepare for any Baxter adventure with trail maps, plant guides and more.
- Give back to the backcountry skiing community with a Granite Backcountry Alliance membership. Located in North Conway, NH, the Alliance supports efforts to protect and maintain backcountry ski and glade trails in New Hampshire and western Maine. Shop their online store for Ski Free or Die stickers.
The Northern Forest is full of unexpected and delightful gifts that are sure to make your friends and family light up this holiday season. Thank you for supporting locally owned businesses and community organizations that are the backbone of our vibrant Northern Forest economy. Happy Holidays and have fun Living the New Forest Future this winter!