Shortly after sunrise, a dramatic iron chandelier sways from side to side above my head. I feel subtle movement from my comfy king-size bed, which stirs me out of my dreams and into reality. My home for the past night, El Castillo, is still settling into its foundation: a few towering pine trees, which I think I share with an owl.
Last winter, El Castillo (or “the castle”) became the seventh of its kind—though each themed tree house is unique—at The Mohicans, a cabin resort in northern Ohio. And this year, three more dwellings appeared in neighboring trees, including a 1978 Airstream secured 20 feet above the forest floor. (The tree houses start at $240/night.)
Photo courtesy of The Mohicans
Laura and Kevin Mooney ditched the corporate grind in 2005 to build cabins on a remote plot of land they own near Mohican State Park and a state forest. During the process, they met Pete Nelson, host of Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters. Pete inspired the Mooneys to raise the stakes at The Mohicans, and they hired him to design their first two aerial concepts. Recruiting the help of local Amish carpenters, they now lay claim to one of the largest tree house villages in the country. It’s spread out above four traditional cabins and an events barn on their 75-acre property.
“It’s all sustainable,” Kevin says. “I use trees on the property and mill them down. All the siding is 100-year-old barnwood.” The designs incorporate passive solar energy and recycled materials for furniture, windows and decks. They’re open year-round and have become some of the state’s most photogenic backdrops for weddings.
Each of Laura and Kevin’s tree houses wears the cabin aesthetic in its own way. White Oak Treehouse has a three-sided wraparound porch overlooking the Mohican Valley. Tin Shed Treehouse’s garage-door wall opens fully into the forest canopy. The Little Red Treehouse that Pete designed has been featured on Animal Planet. On sunny mornings, a 5-foot stained-glass window on its east wall lights up the inside with a spectrum of colors.
To reach my round two-story castle, I scale two sets of stairs and bounce across a suspension bridge. Inside, black walnut floors and cherry ceilings grace the efficient space. Huge two-story windows frame the forest like landscape paintings. High-end touches include a granite countertop in the compact kitchen and a bathroom featuring a stone shower. A narrow spiral staircase of black walnut with a tree-branch banister leads to the bedroom under an octagonal wooden roof. There’s no Internet and spotty cell service in my nest—which means maybe no one will find me if I decide to stay forever.
Photo courtesy of The Mohicans
Little Red Treehouse. Photo courtesy of TourismOhio.
• Pack food and drinks for the kitchen (cookware included). Seven miles away, Loudonville is the closest town with some groceries and restaurants, like the Mohican Tavern.
• Booking is limited to 60 days or less in advance. Four-wheel drive is ideal for the private tree house roads. Less than 10 miles away: zipline tours, canoeing and Mohican State Park trails.