Whether we’re putting together catalogs, designing and testing products or getting your order to your doorstep, we’re always doing our best to help you enjoy the outdoors. So it might not surprise you to know that when we’re off the clock, we’re doing our best to get out and enjoy the outdoors ourselves!
The L.L.Bean Employee Outing Club organizes trips – from hiking, cycling and paddling in the summer to snowshoeing and skiing in the winter. At the end of this summer, a group of employees headed out on an overnight journey to Maine Huts and Trails’ Grand Falls Hut, a trip that combined some of our favorite things: paddling, hiking and telling campfire stories with friends in the backcountry.
Maine Huts and Trails operates a hut-to-hut trail system in the mountains of western Maine, where intrepid outdoorspeople can enjoy activities like rafting, hiking, fishing and more. These “off-the-grid” adventures combine comfortable and friendly accommodations – including home-cooked meals, comfortable beds and hot showers – with a unique backcountry backdrop that few get to experience.
Grand Falls Hut is the most remote hut in the system, and part of the adventure was just getting there. The group met on the shores of Flagstaff Lake, where they enjoyed good company over breakfast and feasted their eyes on the Bigelow mountain range. After fueling up for the day, they traveled to Big Eddy and hit the water in kayaks and canoes. It was an 8-mile paddle on the Dead River to the trailhead, but the scenery made it anything but boring. A curious eagle even kept a wary eye on the group as they slipped quietly through the water.
After disembarking and storing the boats, it was time for a two-mile hike to the hut. The trek over rolling hills, through woods and over streams, treated the group to wonderful views – the most spectacular being the aptly named Grand Falls. Forty feet tall and more than one hundred feet across, Grand Falls is absolutely breathtaking, and so far off the beaten path that few get to experience it – but worth ever step of the journey.
With ten miles of paddling and hiking under their belts (and boots), the group retired to the Grand Falls Hut. Opened in 2010, the Grand Falls Hut has a capacity for 32 people and offers best-in-class amenities – what Maine Huts and Trails describes as a “boutique hostel.” The group was treated to a hearty family-style dinner, then had a relaxing evening of fun and games around a roaring campfire before bunking up for a comfortable night in the backcountry.
These opportunities to take a trip through the woods and waterways of Maine serve as a great reminder of just why we do everything we do, and help refresh our love of the outdoors. You don’t have to work for L.L.Bean to take a trip like this yourself – Maine Huts and Trails and many other organizations offer rustic places to stay and play in Maine, with the wilderness right at your doorstep. Start planning your next trip today – we’re certainly planning ours.