The AMC has built a chain of 8 huts, located a day's hike apart along the Appalachian Trail, which offer comfortable accommodations with bunk beds and hearty, family-style meals. The AMC web site has a substantial section on the huts, here I give hiking information that supplements what they offer. For each hut I describe the most frequently used access routes (with distances, elevation gains and book time), and some of the trips that can utilize that hut, including hut to hut trips.
The AMC operates a hiker shuttle that passes by all the trailheads used to access the huts. This allows you to plan trips where your end point is far from your starting point, even with only one car. The best way to utilize the shuttle is to drive to your destination trailhead, leave your car there and take the shuttle to your starting point. This is usually preferable to driving to your starting point, and hoping to reach your destination in time to catch a shuttle back.
Currently three of the huts at lower elevations are open in winter: Carter Notch, Zealand Falls and Lonesome Lake Huts. All operate on "self-service basis" during that period:
At AMC Self-service huts, guests provide their own food and have full use of the hut's stove, oven, and cookware to prepare their own meals. Bunks, mattresses, and pillows are provided, but blankets are not. Be sure to bring a warm sleeping bag if you're staying at a self-service hut.
In all three huts the dining and cooking areas are heated (moderately!). In the Zealand Falls Hut the bunk rooms are adjacent to the dining area so they do get some of the warmth. In the Carter Notch and Lonesome Lakes Huts the bunkrooms are in separate, unheated, buildings. A three season sleeping bag, good to 20°F, is probably adequate for Zealand Hut, while a real winter bag, rated to -20°F, is probably needed for the other two.
An excellent book about the hut system is High Huts of the White Mountains by William E. Reifsnyder, 1993, 2nd edition, ISBN 1-878239-20-1.
- Lonesome Lake Hut (elevation
2,760 feet) is the most accessible of the huts, and is very popular
with families introducing their young children to the
outdoors. Starting in December 2002 this hut has been open on a
caretaker basis (cook your own meals, bring your sleeping bag) in
- Greenleaf Hut (elevation 4,200
feet) is located at treeline on the west side of Mount Lafayette. It
allows a leisurely two day trip to Mount
Lafayette, either alone or as a Franconia Ridge traverse. It is
sometimes combined with Galehead and occasionally Zealand Falls Huts
for a traverse of the northern rim of the Pemigewasset Wilderness.
- Galehead Hut (elevation 3,800
feet) is located at the base of Galehead Mountain, near the col
between it and South Twin Mountain. With its strategic location at the
junction of the Garfield and Twin ridges
it can be used for a great variety of trips.
- Zealand Falls Hut (elevation 2,630
feet) is, like Lonesome Lake Hut, easily accessible and situated near
water, the falls on Whitewall Brook. It can be used as a base for low
elevation hikes into the Pemigewasset Wilderness, to a moderate
elevation at the excellent outlook of Zeacliff, or to several nearby
4,000 footers (Mts. Hale, Zealand, Tom and Field). It can also be used
as a base for the more distant Bonds. It is
open in winter on a caretaker basis, and is popular with both XC
skiers and hikers.
- Mizpah Spring Hut (elevation 3,800
feet) is the most accessible of the high huts, and is an excellent
next step for those who have previously hiked to the easiest huts
(Lonesome Lake, Zealand Falls and Carter Notch).
- Lakes of the Clouds Hut
(elevation 5,012 feet) is the largest and most popular of the huts. It
is located besides Lakes of the Clouds (often called "Lakes of the
Crowds"!) in the col between Mts. Monroe and Washington. It can be
reached by hiking up from the valleys, or by taking the road or
cog rail to the summit of Mt. Washington and hiking down.
- Madison Spring Hut (elevation 4,800
feet) is at the northern end of the Presidential Range, in the col
between Mts. Madison and Adams. It is the hut with the greatest
elevation gain from a trailhead, so in one sense is the most difficult
to reach. It is used for overnight trips to Mts. Madison and Adams,
or as part of a three day (two night) hut based traverse of the
- Carter Notch Hut (elevation 3,288 feet) is located near the two Carter Notch lakes, between the Wildcats and Carter Dome. It is relatively easily accessible via the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail, though both the distance and elevation gain are roughly double those for Lonesome Lake Hut. It can be a destination in itself, or can be combined with more or less ambitious trips over the Wildcats, Carters or both. It is open in winter on a caretaker basis, and is much more easily accessed on snowshoes than on XC skis.