America is blessed with abundant land that’s ideal for log homes. If you’re still looking for some scenic site to build yours, here are a few out-of-the-way gems. They’re no strangers to log homes, possibly because the folks who do live there know a good thing when they see it.
You’re also likely to find people there who sell, build, furnish and finance log homes. And restore and maintain them, if you’re hoping to buy an existing log home. Buying an existing home isn’t a bad strategy. Plenty have been built in the past 30 years, including in these six counties, and some have the added advantage of sitting on choicer sites than might be available now.
For new log homes, raw land is available in all six locations, offering the opportunity to customize the home and the site to your liking. It all begins with finding the right place.
Here are some general features of the six overlooked log-home locations. Land prices tend to be favorable, but they vary greatly, even within one county. If you can’t find anything you want to buy in your favorite, but some land comes close, investigate neighboring counties. You might discover similar landscapes more like what you’re looking for, probably for not much more money.
1. FANNIN COUNTY, GEORGIA
Located in the North Georgia Mountains, southernmost of the Appalachians, the county is a hot spot for log homes — especially cabin-style homes — and attracts flatlanders seeking a change of scenery and relief from summer heat. Prominent towns are Blue Ridge, McCaysville, Mineral Bluff and Morganton.
Attractions — Besides moderate climate, outdoor recreation is the lure. The county boasts 20 hiking trails, nine bike trails, a horse trail, six publicly owned camping areas and five waterfalls. Parts of the Chattahoochee National Forest and Cohutta National Wilderness Area — the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi — lie in Fannin County. Water resources are plentiful, highlighted by centrally located Blue Ridge Lake. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates a cold water fish hatchery. Streams, lakes and reservoirs are stocked with rainbow trout.
Land Availability — Fannin County, population 21,887, comprises 391 square miles of land and water. Desirable home sites are available, as are lots with existing log homes for sale. You’ll also find several rustic resort communities. The average land price is $14,000 an acre; lots with views and water access command higher prices.
Log-Home Landscape — From a log-building standpoint, the region from north Georgia to nearby east Tennessee and west North Carolina abounds with milled-log companies and their representatives, as well as a host of handcrafters, many of them skilled hewers and dovetailers. Appalachian flat logs are the regional style, but round logs aren’t rare. Every so often, you’ll run across a big-log home from a western company. Predominant log species are southern yellow pine, eastern white pine and cypress.
2. GREENE COUNTY, NEW YORK
The Hudson River Valley runs along the east and west sides of the river. More picturesque towns lie along the west side, where the hills and mountains attract outdoor lovers. Such is the lure of Greene County. Located in the northern Catskills, it encompasses the Blackhead Mountain Range, Hunter Mountain (4,040 feet) and Indian Head Mountain (3,573 feet).
Attractions — Unspoiled scenery is the major draw. The county features hunting, fishing, skiing and hiking and offers breathtaking fall foliage. Kaaterskill Falls, near Hunter, inspired many landscape paintings by the artists of the Hudson River School.
The region also enjoys a reputation for being laid-back and down-to-earth. “I don’t want to be in a chic area when I go upstate,” one Long Island resident who bought a second home in Greene County told The New York Times. “I want to go where I can buy worms at the gas station and say hello to everybody when I buy my coffee.”
Land Availability — Although many city dwellers escape to the Hudson Valley, Greene County requires a longer drive from New York than more popular Ulster County, so it’s more affordable than areas closer and along the river’s eastern side. It’s also less congested (population density 74 per square mile), meaning more land for sale.
Affordability is relative, however. If you’re hoping to build near the Hunter or Windham ski areas, be prepared to spend a fair amount. (Sample land price: $85,000 for 5.20 acres in Windham at the end of a cul-de-sac with southern views.)
Log-Home Landscape — Greene County is camp and cabin country. Round-log kit homes prevail, coming mostly from New York, Pennsylvania and New England companies. Pine and cedar are the leading log species.
3. GARRETT COUNTY, MARYLAND
Maryland’s westernmost county centers on the Allegheny Mountains and Deep Creek Lake. Sparsely populated (47 people per square mile), it boasts open land and relatively high peaks, including the state’s highest, Hoye-Crest, a ridge along Backbone Mountain, 3,360 feet. Annual snowfall averages 72 inches. The county has only eight towns, with Mountain Lake Park being the largest (population 2,248).
Attractions — Garrett County contains more than 76,000 acres of parks, lakes and publicly accessible forestland. Popular activities include camping, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, alpine and cross-county skiing, snowmobiling, hunting, ice fishing, fly fishing, whitewater canoeing, kayaking, rafting, boating, swimming, sailing and water skiing. At 54 feet, Muddy Creek Falls is the state’s highest free-falling waterfall.
Land Availability — Covering 3,900 acres, Deep Creek Lake has buildable property, but off-water areas have more. To give an idea of price range, eight wooded acres bordering Savage River State Forest were recently offered for $79,000; 1.33 acres with a view of Deep Creek Lake and a dock slip went for $184,500.
Log-Home Landscape — Mountain-style log homes are popular, mostly milled and typically with prominent picture windows to capture views. The rugged wooded terrain limits building access, and lots tend to be smaller, but demand is keen because the county draws from several nearby metro areas (Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington). Log-home companies from all over the country do business in the general vicinity, so you’ll find plenty of local dealers and experienced builders, as well as many different log species.
4. GUNNISON COUNTY, COLORADO
Blessed with wondrous natural beauty, Gunnison County is in the western half of Colorado, roughly equidistant from Grand Junction, Durango and Colorado Springs. It boasts some of the most remote wilderness access in the country, including the Curecanti National Recreation Area, Hartman Rocks, Taylor Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Open space abounds because 80 percent of the landscape is protected, 2 million acres of it federally owned land. The population density is a low 4 per square mile, but that’s based on permanent residents, not seasonal visitors. The county celebrates its ranching heritage, adding to the local charm.
Attractions — Gunnison County teems with recreational activities, scenic and historic sites, museums and the Gunnison Valley Observatory, which welcomes amateur astronomers. The county’s natural features, primarily lakes and mountains, and its rural character appeal to people who indulge their passion for camping, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, fishing and skiing. Crested Butte, the county’s winter hub, offers spectacular terrain for all snow-related adventures.
Land Availability — Because so much of the land is off limits for development, available acreage tends to be concentrated around existing settlements. The average land price is $9,989 per acre, but some spectacular lots are available. Examples: 20 acres above Pitkin, in the Quartz Creek Subdivision with a mix of grassy meadow and wooded hillside: $79,500; 463 acres of mountain ranchland four miles from the Ragged Wilderness and eight line-of-sight miles from the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness: $1.34 million.
Log-Home Landscape — Log homes are plentiful in Gunnison County. Most are lodges, not cabins, but at least folks there are familiar with logs — including architects, builders, tradespeople and decorators. The region is well served by national log-home manufacturers and many local logcrafters who are skilled at working with big logs. Standing-dead lodgepole and ponderosa pine and Engelmann spruce are common log species.
5. DOUGLAS COUNTY, MINNESOTA
Located in the middle of the state in the heart of the Central Lakes Region, Douglas County is about woods, water and winter. It contains 250 lakes, representing 12 percent of the county’s total area, and features Minnesota’s only wine-grape appellation. Rolling hills mark the terrain. There are 11 cities, the major one being Alexandria, the county seat. Although the land is densely populated, relatively speaking (52 per square mile), it still has adequate open space to accommodate new construction.
Attractions — Snowmobiling, ice fishing and cross-country skiing highlight winter activities; golf and boating mark summers. The landscape lends itself to long bicycle tours, especially in fall when the foliage reaches peak in the woods in the east and north. The county welcomes tourists, who come for the many lakes and resorts. Tourism events in Alexandria include a Grape Stomp every September, an Apple Fest in October, the Douglas County Fair every August and Art in the Park every July. A city museum displays the Kensington Runestone, which some say proves that Vikings visited the area in the 14th century. Outside the museum stands Big Ole, a 25-foot-tall statue of a Viking originally built for the World’s Fair in New York in 1964.
Land Availability — Undeveloped but worthy land is pricey. A 23-acre site on Lake Miltona, with 400 feet of shoreline and artesian wells, was offered for $355,000. One-acre lots in Alexandria’s Pine Haven development start at $59,900.
Log-Home Landscape — Lakeside cabins and woodland lodges prevail, mostly vacation homes but some primary residences. Small-diameter round logs are popular, especially rustic-looking ones, but also some half-log homes because of the frigid winters and the desire for conventional insulation. Most logs are cedar and pine.
6. STONE COUNTY, ARKANSAS
People charitably locate the Ozarks in Missouri, a more genteel-seeming place than Arkansas, but as the mountains continue south, they hold some of the South’s most scenic uplands. Located in the state’s north-central region, Stone County lacks metro areas, and the locals aren’t hoping for any. The population density of Stone County, named for its natural rock formations, is only 20 per square mile. The only town of consequence is Mountain View, the county seat and Folk Music Capital of the World, population 2,876. The White River runs north of town.
Attractions — Stone County is noteworthy for its mountainous beauty. It’s home to Blanchard Springs Caverns, administered by the U.S. Forest Service. The area — particularly Mountain View — is also widely known as a cultural center of music and crafts associated with the Ozark Mountains region. The Ozark Folk Center is a state park located in Mountain View that’s dedicated to preserving the region’s culture. The 637-acre site has an 80-acre entertainment and cultural history complex, and it features a lodge, swimming pool, picnicking sites, hiking trails, arts-and-crafts displays, conference facilities, a restaurant and a 1,000-seat music auditorium. Hunting and fishing are popular. Alcohol is not sold legally in the county.
Land Availability — There’s no shortage of land, and prices are reasonable. Among recent offerings were 38 wooded acres with a small creek for $77,000; 89 acres just outside Mountain View, $133,500.
Log-Home Landscape — Stone County is underserved by log-home companies and builders, but the Ozarks tradition of log cabins, dogtrots and hewn-log houses, and its log-suitable settings make contemporary log homes welcome, especially by weekenders from Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Tennessee. Logs are pine and some oak.