New Owner for North Woods Rafting
New Owner for North Woods Rafting
By Debra Thornblad
The Berlin Reporter
April 23, 2014
MILAN – North Woods Rafting has
been sold, but it won’t be going far. Previous owners Lincoln Robertson
and Heather Piche sold the business earlier this year to Mark Peabody and Kim
Hockmeyer, owners of the Mahoosuc Inn, just right up the road.
White water rafting will now join the many outdoor activities already offered from that bed and breakfast, which include horseback riding, hiking, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and ATVing.
“As we’ve been building the business, we’ve been building it with a real vision for outdoor recreation,” Peabody said. “I firmly believe we have to provide a high quality experience to visitors who come to the north country.”
In business for 13 years, North Wood Rafting is the oldest white water rafting company in New Hampshire.
Peabody said Robertson and Piche had been talking about selling the business for a couple of years and they decided to buy it because they wanted to make sure North Woods Rafting stayed at the high level of service it had been under the Robertson/Piche ownership. Peabody and Hockmeyer are sure they can continue to offer that service because for the couple, it’s like coming home again. Both had parents who were very involved in white water rafting.
Peabody’s father was a highly trained white water guide with the Appalachian Mountain Club in the Worcester area for many years and continued to take on increasingly difficult challenges in northern Canada, including the Coppermine River. “He rode rivers everyone said were unrideable,” Peabody said.
Peabody was a white water enthusiast since he was a kid. He is a fifth generation North Country resident, with several past family members who worked for the Brown Company in Berlin. He, himself, worked in the woods logging for a few years.
In his youth, he had a milk route and saved his money to buy an aluminum Grumin canoe from Catello’s in Berlin, back when they sold small engines and other things besides music. Hockmeyer’s father Wayne Hockmeyer started Northern Outdoors, of The Forks, Maine in 1976. “They were pioneers in the white water business,”Peabody said. “The Androscoggin River is the perfect entrance to white water rafting for families,” he added.
When Peabody first bought the 85 plus acre property, just north of Milan village, in 1991 the now inn was a duplex and the barn was in danger of collapsing. He went to work on the barn first and the first outdoor activity offered was horseback riding. Peabody had previously offered horse boarding at Bell Hill farm in Stark. A mutual love of horses was, in fact, how Kim met Mark. She was looking for a place to board her horses and contacted him. They eventually married.
Over the years the barn was rebuilt to house not only horses, but three separate housing units that are now used by Peabody and Hockmeyer and other family members. There is also a banquet room for serving meals to guests. Mahoosuc Inn has been serving lunches for other rafting companies for a few years and now will be adding their own company to the lunch mix.
A few years ago with children grown the large dwelling was no longer needed for the family. Renovations started and the Mahoosuc Inn, a bed and breakfast, opened four years ago. It has six rooms with a capacity for 15 guests. There is also a full kitchen and a reading area with a fireplace on the main floor. Over the years the Peabody/Hockmeyer family has continued to build on the outdoor activities offered from the property. Today 11 horses are stabled on the property and are available for horseback riding. There are trails throughout the property.
Corridor 19, one of the main snowmobile corridors, runs right through the property. In exchange for using the land the local snowmobile club grooms a trail right to the inn’s door. Other winter activities include cross country skiing, hiking (year round) and dog sledding.
The hiking trails, he said, are open year round and are free for the public to use. In warmer seasons, entrance to the Ride the Wilds ATV trail is only a half mile away and there are plans to bring it closer, which will enable visitors to access it right from the property.
The property also boasts several gardens for those interested in gardening. The property is pet friendly. They just ask that dogs stay on leashes until past the horse pasture areas.
Another new project about to get underway is the yurt ground. Peabody said he has been approved for 14 yurts and hopes to have four done by this fall. These will be available year round, will be heated by solar and gas and have small kitchens. A small store is being planned for an area in the barn.
They will be a full scale outfitter for paddle sports. In addition, a small gift shop will offer things like t’shirts and Hockmeyer will be offering homemade soaps, not only for people, but for dogs and horses as well. They are also hoping to add special interest weekends, perhaps a learn to make beer event or quilt making. The Inn is also available for weddings.
With all that’s going on, Peabody said he’s decided to combine all of them under one business umbrella he’s calling “Mahoosuc Outdoors.” He expects that to be accomplished this coming week.
For more information visit: www.mahoosucinn.com or call 603-449-6646.
New owners of North Woods Rafting Kim Hockmeyer and Mark Peabody