High Huts of the White Mountains

High Huts of the White Mountains
Greenleaf Hut on the shoulder of Mount Lafayette

The High Huts of the White Mountains are a series of eight mountain huts in the White Mountains, in the U.S. state of New Hampshire, owned and maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Modeled after similar huts in the Alps, they are positioned at intervals along the Appalachian Trail, allowing "thru-hikers" (those who hike the entire Appalachian Trail) to benefit from their services. They are generally separated by six to eight miles, about a day's hike.

Hikers can reserve overnight bunks at the huts, which hold from 36 to 90 people each. In summer season (June through mid-September) the huts are "full service", serving dinner and breakfast. Three huts stay open the rest of the year as "self service", allowing guests to cook their own food in the kitchen.

The huts are maintained by a team of five to nine caretakers - often called "the croo," using that spelling[1] - during full-service season. Each crew member works for eleven days on, three days off. During the eleven working days, they must make four trips back down the mountain to get perishable food and other supplies, carrying heavy loads. At the beginning of each season, fuel and supplies are flown into the huts by helicopter.

Although extremely popular, the huts are also controversial, facilitating thousands of hikers entering the back woods and environmentally sensitive areas above tree line. Four years and an environmental impact statement were required to get the huts' permits renewed by the U.S. Forest Service in 1999.


Hut histories

In describing the huts' relative positions, "south" and "north" refer to location along the AT, though the trail runs roughly from west to east through the White Mountains. The following huts are presented in "south" to "north" order.

Lonesome Lake Hut

The southernmost hut in the system (44°08′19″N 71°42′12″W / 44.1385°N 71.7033°W / 44.1385; -71.7033 (Lonesome Lake Hut)) started out in 1876 as a fishing camp on Lonesome Lake, with cabins built by author W.C. Prime. Lonesome Lake Hut officially became part of the AMC hut system in 1929, when the State of New Hampshire bought the land and invited the club to run it as a shelter. It has since become a popular hut for families due to its low altitude and relative ease of ascent. It is notable for being the first hut managed by an all-female croo, in 1979. It is the second lowest hut in the system and is tied with Greenleaf, its closest neighbor, for the fourth highest capacity.[2][3]

Greenleaf Hut

Construction on Greenleaf (44°09′37″N 71°39′37″W / 44.1603°N 71.6604°W / 44.1603; -71.6604 (Greenleaf Hut)) was completed in 1930 and was the first hut project to use a team of burros to carry materials. Greenleaf was also the first hut in the system with running waters and indoor toilets, which symbolized the shift in concept from that of the huts being simple shelters to that of the huts being more of a mountainside hostel. The design on Greenleaf — a central dining room and kitchen flanked by two bunkrooms — became the model for Galehead and Zealand Falls, both constructed within the next year. This hut was also the first to leave behind the stone and masonry construction technique utilized by earlier huts. Much of the funding for the construction of the hut came from Colonel Charles Greenleaf, for whom the hut is named. Guests at Greenleaf enjoy spectacular views of Franconia Ridge due to the hut's position on a prominent shoulder of Mount Lafayette. Greenleaf is the third highest hut in the system and is tied with Lonesome Lake Hut for the fourth highest capacity. Lonesome is also the hut's closest southern neighbor, with Galehead Hut to the north.[4][5]

Galehead Hut

Construction on Galehead hut (44°11′16″N 71°34′08″W / 44.1879°N 71.5688°W / 44.1879; -71.5688 (Galehead Hut)) began in 1931, using wood from the surrounding trees. It was completed in 1932, along with Zealand Falls Hut, its closest northern neighbor. Originally, the hut used the small space under the front porch to store perishable foods. In 1938, the hut gained a temporary 360 degree view when the Great New England Hurricane blew over all the surrounding trees. The building itself survived the storm, but it could not last indefinitely — in June 2000, a brand-new Galehead opened to the public. The new hut included provisions to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act including a wheelchair ramp, even though it is 5 miles (8 km) by a rough trail from the nearest trailhead.[6] As the hut is located nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 m) above sea level and five miles from the nearest trailhead, the vast majority of the building materials had to be carried in; thus mainly lightweight materials were utilized. Despite this challenge, new features for the hut included composting toilets (already in use at Mizpah Spring Hut, Carter Notch Hut, and Lonesome Lake Hut), solar panels and a wind vane to produce power with little environmental impact, and the ability to withstand winds up to 125 mph (200 km/h). The latter was accomplished by fastening the foundation to the granite groundrock through drilling and grouting rebar. The hut is located on the rugged Garfield Ridge and is located 0.9 miles (1.4 km) from South Twin Mountain and 0.5 miles (800 m) from Galehead Mountain. The hut is tied with Mizpah Springs Hut for the fourth highest hut and sleeps the second lowest number of people. Greenleaf hut is the closest hut to the south.[7][8][9]

Zealand Falls Hut

Zealand Falls Hut (44°11′46″N 71°29′40″W / 44.1960°N 71.4944°W / 44.1960; -71.4944 (Zealand Falls Hut)) was completed in 1932 along with Galehead and has been open in the winter season since 1973. It, like Lonesome Lake hut, is notable as a "family" hut due to its low altitude and relatively easy approach climb. It also has the lowest capacity of all the huts, sleeping little more than a third of the largest capacity hut. Zealand is neighbored by Galehead to the south and Mizpah Spring to the north.[10][11]

Mizpah Spring Hut

Mizpah Spring Hut (44°13′09″N 71°22′10″W / 44.2193°N 71.3695°W / 44.2193; -71.3695 (Mizpah Spring Hut)) was originally built in 1964, and although there are newer buildings in the system, this makes Mizpah the newest hut site in the system. The building is designed to withstand 200 mph (320 km/h) winds and was built with materials brought in by helicopter. This hut is tied with Galehead Hut for the fourth highest hut and sleeps the second largest number of people. Its immediate neighbor to the south is Zealand Falls Hut, and its immediate neighbor to the north is Lakes of the Clouds hut.[12][13]

Lakes of the Clouds Hut

The highest, largest, and most popular hut in the system, Lakes of the Clouds Hut (44°15′32″N 71°19′08″W / 44.2588°N 71.3190°W / 44.2588; -71.3190 (Lakes of the Clouds Hut)) started as a shelter built in 1901 in response to the deaths in the previous year of two hikers caught in a storm on their way to an AMC meeting atop Mount Washington. Fourteen years later it was rebuilt as a hut, and has since been renovated at least five times — in 1922, 1927, 1947, 1969 and 2005. Despite its position as the highest of the huts, it is also the most easily accessible due to its proximity to the summit of Mount Washington, accessible both by car and by the Mount Washington Cog Railway, a popular tourist attraction. It is located adjacent to its namesake Lakes of the Clouds—two small alpine tarns — and just below the 5,372 ft (1,637 m) summit of Mount Monroe. The hut is the largest of the AMC chain: It provides bunks for 90 hikers. Because of its size and popularity, it is known as "Lakes of the Crowds". Mizpah Spring Hut is the closest hut to the south and Madison Spring is the closest hut to the north.[14][15]

Madison Spring Hut

Madison Spring Hut

Madison Spring Hut (44°19′40″N 71°17′00″W / 44.3277°N 71.2832°W / 44.3277; -71.2832 (Madison Spring Hut)), built in 1888, is both the oldest hut site in the chain and the oldest hut site in the United States. The first overnight guests stayed in the winter of 1889, and in 1906 a fee was instituted to utilize the shelter — 50 cents per night. The original hut was expanded in that same year, as well as 1911, 1922, and 1929. However, in 1940, a fire — caused by the ignition of gasoline for the gasoline-electric power generator — destroyed much of the hut. The following year it was rebuilt and re-opened. The hut was extensively rehabilitated in the fall of 2010 and early 2011. [16]

It is the second highest hut in the chain, and sleeps the third highest number of guests. The hut is accessed most directly from the Valley Way Trail (from the Appalachia parking lot). It is generally considered the most difficult of the full-service huts to access, based on distance and elevation required to reach it. To the south is Lakes of the Clouds Hut and to the north is Carter Notch Hut.[17][18]

Carter Notch Hut

Carter Notch Hut (44°15′33″N 71°11′44″W / 44.2591°N 71.1955°W / 44.2591; -71.1955 (Carter Notch Hut)) is the easternmost hut in the system[19] and is open year-round. Between 1996 and 2006, it operated on a self service basis; since then it has resumed operating as a full service hut during the summer season, remaining self-service the rest of the year.[20][21] The site's use as a shelter began in 1904 as a simple log cabin; the building was rebuilt as a hut in 1914, making Carter Notch the oldest building in the hut chain. There are two bunkhouses located a short distance from the main hut structure; thus from the cliffs above, the hut is viewed as a small compound. There are two small ponds located nearby, as well as a tremendous boulder field. Both are results of an 1869 landslide that ravaged nearby Carter Dome's north slopes. Carter Notch helped establish the hut as a viable pursuit for the AMC, and after its initial success, the group began to lay plans for a hut system. Currently, a nearby cave is used to store cheese, butter, and other perishables. It has both the third lowest altitude and the third lowest capacity of any hut. Its closest southern neighbor is Madison Spring Hut.[22][8]

Comparison of huts

Hut Location Elevation Capacity Sleeping Arrangement 2009 Season Dates[23]
Carter Notch Hut
Carter Notch
3,288 feet
Two bunkhouses — coed rooms for four to six people
Full service June 3 – September 12, self service the rest of the year [19]
Galehead Hut
Edge of Pemigewasset Wilderness Area
3,800 feet
Four coed bunkrooms
Self service May 8–30, Full service June 3 – October 17 [8]
Greenleaf Hut
Mount Lafayette
4,070 feet
Two coed bunkrooms
Self service May 8–30, Full service June 3 – October 17 [5]
Lakes of the Clouds Hut
Southern shoulder of Mount Washington
5,050 feet
Coed bunkrooms
Full service June 3 – September 12 [15]
Lonesome Lake Hut
Cannon Mountain
2,760 feet
Two bunkhouses — coed rooms for four to six people
Full service June 3 – October 17, Self service the rest of the year [3]
Madison Spring Hut
Col between Mount Madison and Mount Adams
4,800 feet
Two coed bunkrooms
Full service June 3 – September 12 [18]
Mizpah Spring Hut
Mount Pierce (often referred to as Mount Clinton)
3,800 feet
Coed bunkrooms for four to eight people
Self service May 8–30, Full service June 3 – October 17 [13]
Zealand Falls Hut
Zealand Notch
2,700 feet
Two coed bunkrooms
Full service June 3 – October 17, Self service the rest of the year [11]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Historic Profile: Lonesome Lake Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-lonesome-history.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b "Lonesome Lake Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-lonesome.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  4. ^ "Historic Profile: Greenleaf Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-greenleaf-history.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b "Greenleaf Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-greenleaf.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  6. ^ Carey Goldberg (August 17, 2000). "For These Trailblazers, Wheelchairs Matter". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE3DA173EF934A2575BC0A9669C8B63&sec=health&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  7. ^ "Historic Profile: Galehead Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-galehead-history.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. [dead link]
  8. ^ a b c "Galehead Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-galehead.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  9. ^ "Galehead Hut Blends the Best of the Old and New". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-galehead-rebuilt.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Historic Profile: Zealand Falls Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-zealand-history.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. [dead link]
  11. ^ a b "Zealand Falls Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-zealand.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  12. ^ "Historic Profile: Mizpah Spring Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-mizpah-history.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. [dead link]
  13. ^ a b "Mizpah Spring Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-mizpah.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  14. ^ "Historic Profile: Lakes of the Clouds Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-lakes-history.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. [dead link]
  15. ^ a b "Lakes of the Clouds Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-lakes.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  16. ^ AMC News: Rebuilding Madison Spring Hut
  17. ^ "Historic Profile: Madison Spring Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-madison-history.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. [dead link]
  18. ^ a b "Madison Spring Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-madison.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  19. ^ a b "Carter Notch Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-carter.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  20. ^ "2009 White Mountain Hut Rates". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/rates-2007.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  21. ^ "AMC Carter Notch Hut Returns to Full Service in Summer 2007". AMC. October 11, 2006. http://www.outdoors.org/about/newsroom/press/2006/carter-full-service-2007.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  22. ^ "Historic Profile: Carter Notch Hut". AMC. http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/huts-carter-history.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-22. [dead link]
  23. ^ Note: in 2009, all huts are closed May 31 – June 2. Those dates are not included in "the rest of the year".

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