In the past year of COVID-19, I’ve been yearning for new adventures while simultaneously being afraid of their consequences. I decide I need a change of scenery and turn to nature—or, more specifically, The Mohicans Treehouse Resort in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country. Located in a secluded forest with nine unique treehouses and six cabins, each with open-air entrances and no lobby or common areas, it seems as if I’ve finally found a solution to my restlessness.
Laura and Kevin Mooney have been traveling to Glenmont, Ohio, since they were teenagers. Once the Mooneys started a family, they decided to acquire property in the area. One day, a neighbor who owns a nearby ziplining facility suggested that their property would lend itself to treehouses. Kevin latched on to the idea and the Mooneys invited Pete Nelson of Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters to their property. You can watch Nelson’s crew build The Mohicans’ first few treehouses in season six of the show.
The Mohicans is located less than 90 miles from both Columbus and Cleveland, but before my visit I was advised to write down directions—cell and GPS service can be spotty near the secluded resort. I understand why as I get closer, passing by horses pulling Amish buggies.
Once I arrive at The Mohicans, I am faced with a sign that points to treehouses named Little Red, Tin Shed, and The View. I search for the name of my treehouse—technically an Airstream planted into the trees—and follow the arrow pointing the way to The Silver Bullet.
Treehouses and phone boxes
According to Laura, the theme for each treehouse was partly based on the trees themselves. The Old Pine and White Oak treehouses pay homage to the trees that were used to build them. Other treehouses are themed based on a specific emotion the Mooneys were hoping to evoke. The whimsical Moonlight treehouse feels romantic. The Nest is a tiny, round one-room suite that incorporates components of the natural world.
Building and craftsmanship is embedded in the fabric of Amish culture and families here have sustained themselves for generations by living simply off of the land. Without relying on technology or electricity, the Amish are in tune with the physical world and this symbiotic relationship contributes tremendously to a successful build—whether it’s furniture, a barn, or a treehouse.
Roman, an Amish gentleman who lives 8 miles away, is The Mohicans’ head builder. He has been crafting treehouses for the resort since 2018 and now has a son who works alongside him. “I like the work and idea because it’s unique and different,” Roman says. “I enjoy being out in the woods and not being in the city. It’s not as fast paced. Everyone just takes things as they come. It’s very laid back.”
Roman admits that building treehouses has its own unique challenges, including sourcing materials and “actually getting in the trees and getting everything up there.” Roman’s first—and favorite—treehouse is The Castle, which features a circular structure and spiral staircase.
Bringing Roman on board wasn’t simple; he doesn’t have a phone, so Kevin had to drive out to Roman’s house, knock on his door, and convince him of the benefits of building treehouses and working with The Mohicans. Phone booths installed out on the road can be used by multiple families and sometimes the Mooneys will call the “phone box” to leave a message notifying Roman’s family that they’ll be stopping by in the evening.
Laura adds that being immersed in the Amish community and working with Amish families has been a learning experience for the couple. “They like to have you for dinner,” she says. Roman’s family has since become an extension of the Mooney family.
The Silver Bullet
Every treehouse looks and feels strikingly different from the other. On my way to the Silver Bullet, I pass by one with floor-to-ceiling windows, and weave my way around a two-story treehouse. While some of the other treehouses have hanging bridge entrances, mine has a staircase. I walk up the tall flight of stairs to the Airstream outfitted with a porch, string lights, and an outdoor shower.
I type in my code to enter and am stunned to see an enormous bathroom equipped with a steam shower. To my left is a dining room table with benches, a mini fridge, and a semi-equipped kitchen. Behind a sliding wooden door is a hidden bedroom with a beautiful view of the surrounding forest. The interior includes siding from a 100-year-old red barn. The unique accommodations make me feel as if I can return to The Mohicans over and over again and have a completely different experience each time.
I spend my days wandering through the forest, catching glimpses of the other treehouses, and reading by my private fire pit (every treehouse has its own). In the evenings, I cook my meals over the fire and make s’mores for dessert. I feel a sense of renewal being up in the trees, immersed in nature in a remote area of central Ohio. I slow down, enjoy my surroundings, and feel as if I can breathe again.
Disclaimer: Roadtrippers is part of a joint venture, partially owned by Thor Industries, Inc., of which Airstream is a subsidiary.