FROM THE TREETOPS — Although the movie came out a decade before I was born, I was enthralled with the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse.
Based on a novel published in the early 19th century, the Disney movie romanticizes a family being shipwrecked on a tropical island and living high in a tree complete with staircases, swinging bridges, even makeshift elevators to transport goods and people to their aerial abode. This fantastical domicile set among the branches would surely have made even Gilligan and his crew of castaways envious.
My childhood treehouses never manifested themselves to the level of my imagination. While I had lofty ambitions, some were little more than platforms with a series of rungs nailed to the tree for accessibility. But I never lost that desire to live life among the branches.
Fast forward to the present, and treehouses are experiencing a huge resurgence — but not just as backyard playhouses. To quote the Treehouse Master himself, Pete Nelson, “the treehouse just grew up.”
Today, these sophisticated, modern treehouses are taking construction to new heights with all of the modern amenities of ground-dwelling houses and perhaps even a few luxurious touches all in an elevated package.
There’s no better way to experience the transition of the fall foliage than from a bird’s-eye view. As Mother Nature prepares to create yet another masterpiece over the coming weeks, we’re going to go out on a limb and suggest a few options for immersing yourself amongst this blazing palette.
Here are some of our favorite leafy retreats to get you in a fall state of mind — all of them in and around the Mountain State.
Country Road Cabins
Hico, West Virginia
Located just minutes away from the New River Gorge Bridge, this retreat has over 20 cabins and two treehouses with names like Lost Paddle, Iron Ring and Pillow Rock (all names of Class V rapids on the upper Gauley River run). The area is arguably one of the best places in the entire eastern United States to experience the changing of the seasons.
The Holly Rock was the original treehouse added to the property and features a wraparound deck and a tree that runs right through the center of the interior. Added a few years later, the Tuscany Treehouse will elevate your romantic getaway.
Looking for a little more incentive? The property is owned by Paul and Jennifer Breuer, two of the pioneers of whitewater rafting in the Mountain State. With rafting season coming to a close for the year, there are still a multitude of activities around the New River Gorge. Take a hike out to a scenic vista via the Long Point Trail or skirt the gorge along the Endless Wall Trail.
If you’re looking for more aerial adventures, consider flying among the trees with a zip line excursion or walk the catwalk beneath the bridge that sits more than 800 feet above the New River. For more information, visit wvcabins.com.
The Mohicans features an array of nine treehouses, two of which were designed by Pete Nelson with one of them even being featured on his show, “Treehouse Masters.” Located northeast of Columbus, Ohio, the newest addition to the lineup includes a vintage Airstream camper (The Silver Bullet) that sits perched 25 feet above the ground.
Completely reimagined, this unique glamping option includes a covered porch, deck and a steam room in the bathroom.
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, there are options that sleep from two to six guests and some even include outdoor showers for the ultimate tranquil experience. For more information, visit themohicans.net.
Hocking Hills Treehouse Cabins
South Bloomingville, Ohio
Unlike some of the treehouses above which provide an ideal romantic or family getaway, the treehouses at Hocking Hills could easily be permanent residences among the trees. With three luxury aerial houses, and a fourth one on the way, these take life among the limbs to an entirely different level.
Each treehouse cabin is named after a tree (White Oak, Beech, Maple and Hickory) that dominates the landscape of the 15-acre property. After an afternoon of hiking at nearby Hocking Hills State Park, come back and immerse in your private wood-fired hot tub as the sounds of nature will captivate your senses. For more information, visit hockinghillstreehousecabins.com/.