Fort Lewis Lodge is the perfect mountain getaway, sprawling across 3,300 acres of pristine forest and pastureland along the scenic Cowpasture River. You’ll find yourself in the territory of Shenandoah Mountain bordering the George Washington National Forest. The air even feels fresher out here. And there is time and space to breathe deeply. As lodge guest Guiselle Ortega describes it, “It is always healing to be in nature.”
Fort Lewis Lodge has been a family-run operation for the past 30 years – and what a welcoming family; innkeepers John, Caryl, David, and Erin Cowden will make you feel at home right away.
You’ll take the entrance just past the Farmer’s Cottage, pass the Farm & Garden and Lewis Manor on your way to the main part of the Lodge. Check in at the Office and Gift Shop just behind Lewis Mill and Buck’s Bar.
Sunset is majestic as it descends slowly below the mountains at Fort Lewis Lodge. Grab a bottle of wine and head down to the Pavilion, a covered outdoor patio with a stone fireplace overlooking the pasture of black cows. They also have a farm and garden – including goats, chickens, pigs, and horses, which they say the children particularly enjoy – but I dare say we enjoyed just as much.
Identify bright constellations and planets (we spotted Jupiter) in the dark skies from the stargazing platform of this serenely beautiful location.
This family has great respect for the land and take advantage of the sunshine as well.”In the spring of 2018, Fort Lewis introduced a 60KW solar array engineered to supplement 85% of our energy usage. As stewards of the land, we see it as our responsibility to adopt clean energy practices and are excited to integrate this technology.”
There are several rooms in the main house of Fort Lewis Lodge in addition to its three unique silo rooms in a converted corn silo. They also have four rustic cabins – the two-story Tall Timbers Cabin, the Uplands Cabin, the Walatoola Cabin and the John Lewis Cabin – and two more modern cottages, the Andrew Lewis Cottage and the Charles Lewis Cottage.
The John Lewis Cabin is a charming reconstructed timber cabin with comfy dark brown overstuffed leather seats and a back porch with a roomy and relaxing swing. The comfy beds were adorned with exquisite quilts. On colder nights make a fire in your own fireplace. They have a supply of wood waiting for you. So cozy. So thoughtful.
Another option is to reserve one of the five rooms in the Riverside House or the entire house for larger groups.
A homestyle farm-to-table supper of barbecue grilled chicken, fiesta rice medley, baked broccoli with parmesan cream sauce, glazed baby carrots, creamy sweet coleslaw, tossed garden greens with mushrooms, hardboiled eggs and sweet/sour vinaigrette, a delectable peach muffin, and for dessert, yellow squash cake with a lemon glaze hits the spot. They also pick fruit from their own orchards. They even get their drinking water from the natural mountain springs on the property. Both dinner and breakfast are included in the room price.
At Fort Lewis Lodge, there is so much to explore. Take the short trail that leads to the Cowpasture River that runs along the mountain. You’ll pass the second-story hot wood-fired sauna along the way. Or you may opt to gently sway in the hammocks below.
Outdoor activities abound – from hiking and biking by fields and forests, plunging into the swimming hole, and if the river is high enough you can float down the river tubing or on a sit-upon kayak – in addition to fishing for small-mouth bass, rock bass, or rainbow trout. Or try your hand at the Disc Golf Course. Immerse yourself in nature. Some of the hiking/biking trails have picturesque names, such as the Cave Springs Trail, Lime Kiln Trail, Rabbit Patch Trail, and the Cabangi Trail. These trails vary in level of difficulty. The most majestic views can be had from the Hickory Loop Trail.
You’ll find yourself in the vicinity of Hot Springs and the grand Homestead Resort, and Warm Springs Pools, where our forefathers have been said to have taken the healing waters.
During our visit we chanced upon a cousins’ reunion gathered by the outdoor Pavilion fireplace. Some of their kids were running around while others were roasting marshmallows for s’mores on wooden sticks over the roaring fire. They came from far and wide to reconnect and revel in togetherness and were clearly having a wonderful, unforgettable time. Fort Lewis Lodge is ideal for just this sort of event. They were making new memories for the next generation. This is a place where you can just let loose, kick back, and be yourself. The Lodge would also be great for a fun family trip, romantic getaway or friends’ weekend. Open April to October, the most inviting months of the year, Fort Lewis Lodge is just the place for your idyllic Allegheny mountain escape.
Fort Lewis Lodge
811 Millstone Lane
Millboro, VA 24460