About 12 miles away from the bustling Saratoga Springs area, nestled in amongst trees reaching for the sky, is a wonderful little place called Brookledge. I discovered Brookledge after connecting with one of its owners, Helen Christopher, on social media. I started following her on Instagram and was intrigued by the development of this new business she and her husband Ryan were starting.
What Is Brookledge?
Brookledge is approximately 60 acres of undeveloped property in the small town of Providence, just outside of Saratoga Springs. The property has a storied and interesting history. In the 1800's, German families from NYC headed north to cabins built on the property for a much needed getaway from the crowded City. None of those cabins remain, but there is an old stone fireplace with what is believed to be a monogram of a German family on the mantel that still stands representing this chapter of the property's history.
Sometime thereafter, the property was sold and was used as one of the original Camp Fire Girls' camps and then subsequently used by Schenectady Girl's Club (now Girl's Inc) as a girl's summer camp. Many of the original buildings from the property's summer camp days remain standing including original sleeping cabins, bath houses, dressing cabins, the nurse's office, the camp counselor office and the outdoor pavilion. You can still see carvings and artwork done by the girls around the property. Many of the hiking trails on the property were original trails used by the girl's during the camping days.
The Christophers' first saw the Brookledge property a decade ago when attending a wedding on the grounds of the now abandoned camp. Something about the property spoke to them and they agreed if it ever went on the market they would buy it. It ultimately was sold to a real estate developer who planned to tear down all the buildings and create an RV park. That deal fell through and the Christophers had their opportunity to buy their dream property. Helen quit her job as a second grade teacher to focus full-time on renovating the property and restoring it to its past glory as a magical nature getaway.
They have maintained the original Brookledge name and intend to preserve as much history as they can by utilizing the existing structures and incorporating original items found in the buildings or around the property wherever they can. They also have made it a priority during the renovation to source local materials and labor where possible. They continue that mission in the operation of the camp by sourcing supplies and food from local vendor if they can.
You can feel the energy of the property coming back to life when you visit. The vision for Brookledge is to provide a nature retreat that can be used as a wedding venue, event space (corporate events, birthday parties, family reunions or other celebrations), or getaways. They have made great progress and have already completed renovation on a couple of the cabins that were available for booking last summer. But the Christophers have big plans for the property and are working through the winter to make Brookledge even more special in time for next summer and the Saratoga racing season!
What Kind of Experience Will You Get at Brookledge?
Whether you are looking for a rustic but classy space for a special event or a cozy and comfortable retreat from suburbia or city life, Brookledge has what you are looking for! The natural beauty of the surroundings makes any experience magical.
We are not a 5 star luxury hotel, we are a 5 tree happy to be in nature getaway!
Spaces for Weddings and Events:
Brookledge has already hosted a few weddings at its site and the pictures show what an amazing setting it is for such a special day. There are wedding packages available, but they will also work with brides to help them create the day they have been dreaming of. Generally weddings are held in the open space in front of the stone fireplace (pictured above) in an area they call The Chapel. The plan is to even out the terrain, install permanent benches for guests and build a wooden walkway to the site (so the bride's dresses don't get dirty on the walk down the aisle). They also are able to provide transport to the wedding site to those guests who may have mobility issues.
Fireside Pavilion and Raymond's Roost:
The Fireside Pavilion and the nearby Raymond's Roost bar pavilion accommodate a large number of people for a wedding reception, family reunion, corporate event or other large gathering. As its name implies, the Fireside Pavilion has a stone fireplace that was original to the structure from the girl's camp days. The smaller Raymond's Roost Pavilion is a few steps away and has bar seating.
The Fireside Pavilion can also be used to host children's birthday party events. Brookledge has a daytime birthday party package that includes a guided nature hike, swimming, arts and crafts, a scavenger hunt and campfire s'mores for up to 20 guests! There is also a sleepover package if you want to continue the celebration fun through the night. The sleepover package includes all the activities in the daytime party package plus an outdoor movie in the Pavilion for 6 to 10 guests. You can add on party enhancements such as picnic basket meals, a taco bar, make your own trail mix activity and birthday cakes. Prices for various party packages can be found here.
Ice Bucket Pond:
On the property, right next to the Pavilions (and in front of the Crook Brook Cabin) is a small pond called the Ice Bucket. The Ice Bucket is a spring fed and is 10 feet deep. The name should give you a hint about the water temp! The Pond can be used during birthday parties and special events or if you are a guest staying on the property. There are canoes and a floating dock which can be used to relax while floating around the pond (although I think kids use it as a moving diving platform!). They are trying to restore the ecosystem in the Ice Bucket Pond so they installed a fountain to discourage algae growth and plan to restock the pond with native fish.
If you want to extend your stay in nature, Brookledge has several options to accommodate many comfort levels. A recent guest told Helen that Brookledge was the perfect solution for a weekend getaway for her and her husband and he wanted to be out in nature, but she is more of a luxury hotel kind of girl. She found Brookledge to be the perfect compromise because he could be out exploring and communing with nature while she relaxed in the beautifully decorated cabin with her book and a glass of wine! The accommodations may or may not have running water, heat and do not have bathrooms or showers, so you definitely still feel like your are "roughing it" even while enjoying comfortable beds and lodging. If you are interested in reserving any of the available accommodations you can do so on Airbnb or VRBO.
Crook Brook Cabin:
Crook Brook Cabin is a rustic cabin located right next to the Pavilions and sits up from the Ice Bucket Pond. It comfortably accommodates 4 people with the custom made queen bunk bed. The cabin includes linens, dishes, a sink with hot water, a ceiling fan, a grill, a microwave and a mini fridge. There is a TV that is equipped with a working VCR so you can really experience a time warp and watch some VHS movies. There are no bathrooms or showers in the cabin, but outhouses and bath houses with restored showers from the original camp are a close walking distance.
The Crook Brook Cabin has a distinct 70's vibe which was intentionally done to reflect the property's girl's camp history in the 1970s. The VCR/VHS tapes, brown and gold patterned stoneware dishes, art work made by the girls when the camp was operational which was recovered from the cabins, and the childhood favorite boardgames that can be played out on the patio in the evening all contribute to a magical childhood throwback feeling that mixes perfectly with the outdoor environment.
While I loved the Crook Brook Cabin, I have to admit the Cottage blew me away. The Cottage is a little more remote making it perfect for a romantic getaway or a solo retreat. It sits high above the babbling Crook Brook Creek on top of large boulders giving it fantastic views from the balcony. The inside has been impeccably renovated and tastefully decorated by Helen. The remote controlled candle lighting provides a relaxing vibe. There is an outhouse right outside the door, but the bath house for showers is a bit of a walk. The stroll down to the bath house is beautiful, so I don't think any one really minds. There is no electricity, but there is a large battery charger that accommodates cell phone chargers and plugs so you won't be stranded. There is a portable heater to keep you warm as the temperatures drop at night.
Outside on the balcony there are rocking chairs looking out over the Creek and the forest. Down the steps there is a campfire spot with several chairs. A few steps away, a hammock hangs from two trees right next to the Creek creating a perfect nap spot.
I'm not a girl who generally likes to rough it, but I would definitely be excited to stay in this cozy Cottage!
They weren't ready last summer, but next summer Brookledge will offer a new experience! They have built two platforms for large tents that will provide guests a glamping opportunity. The tents will be available to reserve from April to November. The tents will be located steps from the Ice Bucket Pond in an open area where the girls used to have their camp singalongs. The two tents will be named "Woodstock" and "Snoopy" paying homage to the names of the camp buses used to transport the girls to camp from Schenectady back in the day! Love that! The tents will be placed on wooden platforms lifting them off the ground and I am sure Helen will have them outfitted in perfect "glamping" style when they open next spring.
Tree House Lodge:
The Tree House Lodge is currently being renovated so I don't have any current pictures, but by next summer it will be available for short term rental or for events. There will be a large living space with a room that will sleep two. There will be stairs up to a loft area (hence the "Tree House" name) that will be geared towards children with books and toys. Once it if finished and available for reserving, the website will contain more information about the specific accommodations.
Don't Miss This Hidden Gem!
Check out the Brookledge website here for more details about this special place. If you have a special event coming up, I would highly recommend considering this venue. The natural beauty is breathtaking and the care and attention the Christophers are giving to retain the spirit and history of the place makes it even more special. Brookledge is already amazing and they are just getting started. I can't wait to see what else they do with this property and watch their dream come to life! I plan to return in the Spring to see the progress and to update you all on what you can expect if you visit Brookledge next spring/summer