A sputtering flame over the glowing embers signals the last of the evening’s campfire. The forest is dark and quiet, except for the presence of a barred owl nearby. The homey comforts of the large, cozy tent a few feet away, illuminated by a string of lights, promises another night of rest and relaxation after a full day of outdoor activity.

Such is the essence of “glamping,” an enjoyable summertime experience that is a step above ordinary camping.

The sturdy wood and canvas trappeur-style tent, inspired by French-Canadian trappers of years past who depended on a rugged shelter to survive in the wild, is the signature accommodation at Huttopia Southern Maine in Sanford. Nestled in the pine and oak woods next to Sand Pond, the resort features more than 80 tents and a handful of small cabins on the sprawling grounds.

All the Huttopia campsites are walk-in and situated a short distance away from the central parking around the main lodge. After check-in, you’ll grab a hand cart and wheel your belongings along the gravel pathways to your stay. You don’t need much, really – some clothing, food and personal items – because by design, Huttopia provides all the necessary camping equipment.

Each Huttopia tent and cabin is furnished with electric lights and heat, comfortable beds, bathroom and shower with linens and towels, complete camp kitchen, mini-fridge and storage locker. Outside there’s a table and chairs and gas grill on the terrace, as well as a firepit, picnic table, folding chairs and a bundle of firewood near the doorstep.

At Huttopia Southern Maine, the trappeur-style tents feature comfy beds, bathroom and shower, and other homey amenities. Carey Kish photo

“We want to get people into the outdoors, to connect and reconnect them with nature,” said Margaux Bossanne, Huttopia’s brand manager. She is the daughter of the company’s founders, Celine and Phillipe Bossanne, who launched their venture in France in 1999. Huttopia has since grown to more than 60 destinations in Europe, Canada and the U.S. The Sanford location opened in 2019.

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“Huttopia offers simple, ready-to-camp accommodations with a few extra touches that make it a little more comfortable,” Bossanne said.

The standard rate for a trappeur-style tent for two adults – with electricity, a bathroom, a king-size bed and other amenities  – is $540 for a two-night stay. Kids under 18 can stay with the adults for free, but there are also larger tents to accommodate families.

The lodge is the locus of activity at Huttopia, and it’s here that you can rent a canoe or stand-up paddleboard for exploring Sand Pond, which is also a good fishing spot. There’s a sandy beach area, too, for swimming and sunning. There are board games in the lodge, or you can slip into the heated pool, lounge in a hammock or play a game of bocce.

The lodge’s bistro serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner with a bit of French flare, so if you don’t feel like cooking at your tent, you don’t have to go far for good food. The fresh and tasty menu includes brick oven pizzas, sandwiches, salads and quiche, sweet and savory crepes, croissants, coffees and more, plus local microbrews and French wines.

Rest and relaxation at comfortable tent sites is a glamping highlight at Huttopia Southern Maine. Carey Kish photo

There’s plenty to keep you busy right on site at Huttopia, that’s for sure, but being located in the heart of York County, it also makes a great base camp for adventuring around the region. For hikers, especially, there’s plenty to see and do, starting right around the corner with a short boardwalk stroll on the George E. Sweet Ecology Trail at one of a several reserves owned and managed by the Sanford-Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust.

Bauneg Beg Mountain Conservation Area is just a couple of miles west. Under the stewardship of the Great Works Regional Land Trust, the 870-foot peak rewards hikers with summit views ranging from Mount Washington to the Atlantic. All told, the land trust has 18 nature preserves with trails in the area. Mount Agamenticus and its 40 miles of trails are within striking distance, as are the properties of the York Land Trust and Kittery Land Trust. Along the coast, there’s great walking at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm and Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

Huttopia Southern Maine is one of many glamping opportunities in Maine. There are not only tents and cabins, but yurts, tiny houses, tree houses and more, all centered around the simple pleasures of spending quality time in the great outdoors with friends and family. Go glamping this summer; it’s good fun with a twist!

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island is a veteran hiker and freelance writer. His latest book, “Beer Hiking New England,” will be available later this year. Follow more of Carey’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram @careykish


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