IF WINTER is the season of discontent, a quiet country inn catering to the needs of the winter outdoorsman may be just the cure for a blizzard of the blahs. There are several small inns in nearby Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and on Maryland's eastern shore that have facilities for cross-country skiing, ice skating, sledding, biking and hunting. Here is a brief sampling:
This 120-year-old bed and breakfast inn on Route 20 in the flat farmland one mile south of Chestertown, Maryland, opened just two months ago. Innkeepers Michael and Danielle Hanscom have two elegantly furnished rooms open now, but will have four ready by March 1 and more to come. Those two rooms have either a canopied queen bed or twin beds, private baths, fireplaces and antique or reproduction furniture. Hanscom renovated old houses in San Francisco for 10 years before moving to the Eastern Shore last year. His wife Danielle is Swiss and uses her families' antiques to help furnish the first-floor dining room and parlor of the Greek Revival/Italian Renaissance house, which is dominated by a massive solid-walnut spiral staircase climbing tightly to the third floor. Many of the Hanscom's guests in the winter are waterfowl hunters, so the inn has a mud room. The flat Kent County roads in the area are great for bikers or runners. The room rate is $65 per night and includes a full country breakfast. No telephones or television. Children welcome, but please ask first. Brampton, RR2, Box 107, Chestertown, MD 21620. 301/778-1832.
CHEAT RIVER LODGE --
Located on 10 wooded acres next to the 850,000-acre Monongahela National Forest and on the banks of the Cheat River near Elkins, West Virginia, this rustic inn offers cross-country skiing and sledding on the property and in the nearby forest, and is less than a half-hour away from the cross-country resorts of Canaan and Blackwater Falls and the downhill slopes of Timberline. There are three buildings. The Lodge is a six-unit building with motel-style rooms, with television. The rates are from $31 to $35 a night for rooms with two double beds, private bath and a continental breakfast. More rustic and perhaps romantic are the Swinging Vine Cottage and the Rhododendron House. The Swinging Vine is a two-bedroom log cabin on the riverfront, with a wood stove, cathedral ceiling, kitchen and outdoor Jacuzzi. Rates are $58 weekdays, $68 weekends and holidays, for four persons. Extra guests, up to a maximum of six, are $5 additional. The Rhododendron House is a 75-year-old log house with an outdoor Jacuzzi, three bedrooms (including one in the loft), stone fireplace and television. The rates for four persons are $70 weekdays and $110 weekends without the Jacuzzi, which is $10 additional. All prices plus tax; minimum two-nights stay. The lodge is off Route 33 just 4 miles east of Elkins. Route 1, Box 116, Elkins, WV 26241. 304/636-2301.
FLYWAY LODGE --
This blue, three-story Victorian farmhouse set in the flat farmland outside of Chestertown, Maryland, is a winter haven for hunters. Its six rooms are comfortable and furnished with plain or country furniture. The facilities include a mud room for the hunters and several dogs with which you can recount your hunting prowess. The rates during the hunting season are $90, in non-hunting season, $60, including breakfast but not taxes. Pets aren't welcome, but children are; cribs and stuffed animals are available. The century-old Flyway is on Route 213 just east of Chestertown, and the flights of the wintering waterfowl in the area make this a special treat for both hunters and nonhunters. Route 1, Box 660, Chestertown, MD 21620. 301/778-5557.
STERLING INN --
This 130-year-old Poconos inn has 105 acres of grounds used for cross-country skiing and sledding with ice skating available on a lake across the road. The Sterling has its own ski shop, with rentals of skis and skates. The cross-country trails on the property are about 5 miles long. Downhill skiing is available at nearby resorts in the Poconos. The main inn, a three-story white frame structure, has 22 rooms. Other buildings include a lodge with 12 rooms, a guest house with six rooms and a suite, the Wayside cottage with four rooms and a suite, and four cottages. The rooms are furnished simply and comfortably. The rates are $120 to $130 a night per couple, breakfast and dinner included, plus tax. In the evenings, entertainment includes live music or a movie. Box 2, South Sterling, PA 18460. 717/676-3311 or, from Washington, 800/523-8200.
TRILLIUM HOUSE --
This 12-room inn is set in the middle of Wintergreen, a mountaintop four-season resort in the Blue Ridge mountains west of Charlottesville. Trillium is rustic but has modern touches. On the outside it is a stained-cedar, two-story ranch-style lodge. Inside, a cathedral-like entrance hall, overlooked by the library and sitting room on the balcony, separates the dining room and guest wing. The rooms are comfortable, but not overly roomy. The furnishings are tasteful country reproductions or antiques. A shuttle bus runs from the inn to the downhill ski slopes of Wintergreen. Cross-country skiing, when snow is available, can be found on the golf courses and common grounds of Wintergreen. Other winter activities include Wintergreen's wide array of nature-oriented progams and its indoor pool and health spa. No telephones; televisions can be rented. Rates begin at $80 per couple weekdays, $90 weekends, and include breakfast but not taxes. P.O. Box 280, Nellysford, VA 22958. 804/325-9126.