Weekend Getaway to the PATC Tulip Tree Cabin

It was mid September and I really needed a break. I had no vacations or trips in what seemed like an eternity. Maybe it was only 3 or 4 months, but who’s counting… So I wandered on over the the patc.net website and booked the Tulip Tree Cabin for a weekend stay the coming December.

Why December? Well, because most of the nicer and easy-to-access cabins/houses that are offered through the PATC (Potomac Appalachian Trail Club) get booked as soon as an opening becomes available. The first available date (actually the only available date) was the weekend before Christmas on December 18-20. Being as I needed a getaway, and this was the only weekend available, and the cabin looked really rustic and all – I booked it.

It’s sometimes hard to make a reservation for a rustic cabin without electricity when the weather can be a large unknown. In thinking about the last couple of years, we have had very little snow, and even less in the month of December. So what could possibly happen? Snow of course! December 16th a storm dumped about 10-12 inches of snow in Luray, Virginia. Yikes. Frigid cold, too! Perfect timing for our trip!

I almost called the trip off, but trips like this are what makes memories. It’s not the perfect weather, sun is always out type of trip that people reflect on in twenty years. Actually, the trips where something happens and that obstacle has to be overcome are the trips that make the story books.

So I packed the truck.

I took a vacation day on Friday to get a head start on the weekend. Along with all of the usual camping/cabin essentials, I threw a good stack of seasoned firewood in the bed of the truck to feed the belly of the wood stove when we arrived at the cabin. The kids and I left Waynesboro and headed north around 2pm – destination Luray, Virginia – Tulip Tree Cabin.

Summer time scenery around the outdoor kitchen – Image by Richard Heath via PATC.net

There was about 2-3 inches of snow in Waynesboro when we left and although it wasn’t snowing (the snow had ended a day prior) we were seeing more and more snow as we closed in on our destination. When we arrived at the turn off point, where the asphalt meets the gravel, we became a little worried because the gravel road was covered in snow! It did show signs of plenty of vehicle traffic from local residents.

I locked the truck into 4WD and started up. The going was slow and took about 15 minutes to cover the distance up to the Y where the road forked. To the right, is the Tulip Tree Cabin and Lambert Cabin. To the left is another PATC cabin called Huntley Cabin.

Cabin interior as viewed from the loft – via PATC.net

Now the issue at the fork is not which direction to go, because we knew we needed to go to the right. The issue at hand was the road… the road to the left was fairly well traveled while the road on the right was covered in 10 inches of fresh snow and exactly zero tire tracks. While I’m debating turning the truck around, I hear both of my daughters from the back seat say in an overly enthusiastic yell:


Just like that, I turned the steering wheel to the right and headed up the unknown road hoping my ridiculously long crew cab F250 wouldn’t get into a jam on the very narrow road. I swear school buses have a smaller turning radius…

It wasn’t long and we were at the end of the road with a little sign that indicated we had made it to the parking area. The cabin wasn’t in view because it’s about a tenth of a mile walk from the parking area to the cabin. This, we knew, because the PATC did inform us of this on their website. Knowing that this trek was in front of us, and we had a weekend sized stack of firewood in the bed of the truck to keep warm, I did manage to bring a wheel barrow to haul our good to the cabin. Good thinking.

One of the many wheel barrow loads hauled from the truck to the cabin!

What we didn’t know, is that there was a 15 foot wide (give or take) creek that crossed our path to the cabin about halfway there. This was a bit of a surprise, as it wasn’t mentioned anywhere that I recall. No matter. With the trusty wheel barrow, I hauled one kid at a time over the soggy ground to the other side. This worked well because the kids didn’t get squishy wet feet on day one, and I certainly didn’t mind because I was able to use my knee high muck boots that are kept in the truck.

The cabin itself is very cozy and situated in the woods about a tenth of a mile from the parking area. The walk isn’t bad, even in the snow! Once inside, we promptly stoked a fire in the wood stove to get the cabin warm while we unpacked our gear.

The wood stove is located right in the middle of the cabin and next to the kitchen area.

There is a fireplace on the right, with the wood stove in the middle of the cabin, next to the kitchen space.

The fireplace to the right when you walk in.

Two twin over twin bunk beds are located on the left as you enter the cabin. Also on the left, is a stair case that leads to a spacious loft overlooking the kitchen and dining area.

Sleeping arrangements in the loft include two queen beds side-by-side. Accommodations for a total of eight people are in the Tulip Tree Cabin.

The stay for the weekend was a lot of fun! There were eight of us in total, which includes Jamie’s sister and her family. With no cell service around, it was a great opportunity to talk and play games on the picnic table, cook over the wood stove and enjoy some adult beverages. The wood stove kept us plenty warm even at night when the temperature dropped to around 18 degrees.

A non-battery powered game to fuel the kids’ entertainment (thanks Mark!)

This cabin was a very pleasurable stay for us. If you would like to book it, click here:


Keep in mind, that PATC club members have the largest selection of cabins to choose from, and joining the club is worth every penny.

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