Visit to the Holler
Pollywogg Holler is a NY state ecolodge that's
wonderful in winter
by Sue Freeman
Holler beckoned us one wintry day. Pollywogg Holler is an Ecolodge that
sits amid the extensive trails of Phillips Creek and Palmers Pond State
Forests in Allegany County, New York. It began in the early 1980s as a
family project. Owners, Bill and Barbara Castle and their kids spent
three summers living in the woods, building the main cabin.
They added to the complex, year by year, conscious of their impact on
the environment. Their first paying guests were cross-country skiers in
1986. Today they host guests year-round.
obvious that you're headed for a special place the moment you step out
of your car. A trail winds through the woods, past sculptures, and
across a stream that feeds into an active beaver pond. The trail is
dotted with abstract sculptures made from a variety of materials. They
are works of art and creativity by local Alfred State College students.
If you're staying overnight you can carry your luggage for 0.2 mile or
borrow the wheelbarrow to tote your gear.
Pollywogg Holler is a conglomerate of eclectic buildings and lodges. The
main lodge is a log cabin that sleeps 5-6 people. It houses the kitchen
and a dining table and serves as the community center, especially in
winter. Nearby is the wood loft, which as the name implies stores
firewood and sleeps 5-6 people in a loft with large windows overlooking
the complex. An Indian Teepee and a small building called the "Love
Shack" off in the woods, offer additional lodging. Recently Bill
added two large ponds for swimming and ice-skating. He plans to build
additional lodges near the ponds.
in the sauna loft. Before retiring we basked in the sauna, heated by a
woodstove. Then we climbed the small planks jutting from the foyer walls
to the loft. As starlight lit the stained glass windows, we crawled into
an immense pile of quilts and comforters on a mattress. Throughout the
night snow dusted our capped heads � blown in through a crack below a
stained glass window. But we slept long and warm in our loft cocoon.
The Holler the snow was plentiful and we spent our days playing on the
winter trails with our snowshoes and skis. Food was a highlight of
Pollywogg Holler. Seth and Mike prepared and cooked pizza-to-die-for in
an outdoor wood-fired kiln. We huddled around a Purple People Heater, a
custom wood stove for keeping people warm outdoors.
Bill, his family and his helpers have hand built everything at Polywogg
Holler including the Purple People Heaters, often using recycled
materials. The complex derives its power from burning wood, candles, oil
lamps, kerosene heaters, skylights, and solar power. Even on a blustery
winter day, the main lodge was cozy warm and we enjoyed hot showers.
Because of the cold weather we opted to use the heated rest room with a
compost toilet rather than the nature observatory (a.k.a. outhouse).
This is luxurious camping after all.
at ease in the Holler. It exists in concert with nature, building upon
the natural beauty of the land rather than masking it. The people we met
were folks who love and respect the outdoors and simple pleasures �
our kind of folk. In the evening a group gathered in the main lodge and
picked up a variety of instruments for an impromptu jam session. A sense
of peace and kinship
permeated the place.
North of Almond is Letchworth State Park where the Genesee River has cut
a deep gorge into the Allegany Plateau creating the Grand Canyon of the
East. The park is open year-round, offering camping, views of
spectacular waterfalls and miles of trails for hiking, bicycling, and
cross-country skiing. For details call (585) 493-3600. The waterfalls of Letchworth � all
23 of them � are detailed in "200 Waterfalls in Central &
Western New York � A Finders' Guide." For information on the
biking trails see "Take Your Bike � Family Rides in the Finger
Lakes & Genesee Valley Region" (www.footprintpress.com).
Copyright 2002. GoNOMAD
WANT TO GO?
When you're ready for a treat, book a visit to Pollywogg Holler.
accommodations with a brick oven baked dinner and breakfast cost
$110 per person per night. Plan some days of hiking, bicycling,
cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing on the
extensive trails of Phillips Creek and Palmers Pond State
Forests and enjoy the
camaraderie and ambiance of a stay at Pollywogg Holler.
Pollywogg Holler is in the southern tier of New York State, west
of Hornell. From Interstate 86 take exit 32 at Almond and head
south. In West Almond, turn south onto South Road. You'll see
signs for Pollywogg Holler in about 3 miles. For more
website or call 1-800-291-9668.
Maps of the trail systems at Phillips Creek and Palmers Pond
State Forests can be found in the guidebook "Snow
Trails � Cross-country Ski and Snowshoe in Central &
Western New York".