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Ole Mink Farm 1
Ole Mink’s Quiet Oak Cabin.
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Ole Mink Farm 2
Owner/hosts Mike and Debbie Irons.
This western Maryland retreat offers cabins from one-room cozies to a lodge-style cabin that can accommodate up to 10. All of the cabins offer access to the swimming pool, fishing pond and 40 shady acres.
The Ole Mink Farm Recreation Resort in the mountains of Maryland rolls out not a red carpet for visitors, but tree-lined paths connecting cabins and a campground, all with an old-fashioned family friendliness that surely turns back the hands of time.
About the name: This was once the site of an actual mink farm.
About the place: You will never forget the swimming pool, slanting from a lawn dotted by picnic tables and playground equipment, square in the shadows of shade trees. That pool eases into the water at a slope, much like a shoreline.
“It’s a beach access,” says owner Mike Irons. “It’s fully handicapped accessible. It’s a cement pond.”
Ole Mink Farm also features a fishing pond and a game room as it sprawls across 40 shady acres. Here, campsites and cabins are built around the trees, says Mike’s wife Debbie.
All this adds up to a sanctuary blessed with the convenient proximity of two great getaways - Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls State Park, both near Thurmont, a town of about 6,000 people, lying about as close as you can get to Gettysburg without motoring out of Maryland.
You reach Ole Mink Farm after climbing up a mountain from I-70. Gordon and Pat Irons, Mike’s parents, opened the Ole Mink Farm in July 1964 as a simple campground. A few years later came the cabins, and, along the way, Mike Irons married his wife, Debbie, soon after they met in 1971.
“We started renting cabins in 1971,” Debbie Irons says. “We were cabins before cabins became cool.”
Today, the cabins at Ole Mink range from little to a cabin-like lodge, and each bears its own personality.
Check out the Whitetail Ridge Luxury Log Cabin, sporting a screened-in porch with a swing plus an inviting living room, gas log fireplace, loft with bunk, and a queen bed. The Hide & Seek Luxury Log Cabin, nearby, provides a romantic environment with a living room and stone fireplace plus a queen-size pencil poster bed. The two-bedroom Sunny Maple Luxury Log Cabin features a cathedral ceiling and a silver maple interior; pets are also allowed. Most unique, the two-bedroom split level cabin called “Quiet Oak” was reconstructed using authentic hand-hewn logs and now boasts two bedrooms, a living room and a fully-equipped kitchen.
“You need to be diversified, and I think that’s probably the key to our success: being flexible,” Mike Irons says.
The largest of all accommodations at the Ole Mink Farm is the cedar-sided Coffee Hollow Lodge, once the home of the Irons family and now offering comfortable sleeping for up to 10 people in four bedrooms. Coffee Hollow includes a great room with a fireplace; a fully equipped kitchen; and a large deck for outdoor parties and meetings.
“We can rearrange tables and we do small business group meetings there,” Mike Irons says. “Or Mom and Dad, Granddad and five small kids can come.”
For a night in July, my daughter and I stayed in The Phenix Luxury Log Cabin, standing at the edge of woods, large outcrops and a trail through the surrounding slopes of Frederick County, Md.
Built in 1990, the Phenix rises in a hexagonal shape, outlined with contemporary decor, sporting a spacious living room centered by a large, raised hearth stone fireplace. The kitchen possesses a comfortable feel while the bedrooms provide just enough room to stretch out and settle down for the night.
“I designed it, and we built it,” Mike Irons says. “We hand-erected the whole thing. It was fun.”
Here, long before my daughter awoke, I caught up on some early morning reading on the screened-in porch. We cooked breakfast. We strolled across the lawn. And, for sure, this cabin in the woods did its job: We relaxed and had a great time.
Just the Facts
Ole Mink Farm, 12806 Mink Farm Road, Thurmont, Md., 21788
Rates: $325 for luxury log cabins, for two nights; $600 for Coffee Hollow Lodge, for two night
Policy: No smoking
Contact: email@example.com; 301/271-7012