The Hut System in the Whites

HikeItForward-Final-MediumThere are two AT-style shelters that can accommodate thru-hikers in the initial miles of the Whites: Beaver Brook Shelter (NOBO mile 1795) then Elza Brook Shelter (1808). After passing these typical shelters, the housing changes rather drastically to huts. There are eight mountain huts that speckle the trail through the Whites. But they are not small and they are not free. The capacity in the huts range from 36 to 96 people and in July this year the rate per night is $124.00. I don’t plan on staying in these huts but they are beautiful and will serve as great landmarks as I hike. Occasionally they will let a limited number of thru-hikers stay “free-for-work.” The hut will provide floor space and a meal of leftovers if the hiker does some work around the hut. I might be interested in this arrangement if there is room for a 64 year old hiking machine.

NH Lonesome Lake Hut, NHLet’s take a walk through the Whites and take a look at the huts. Because of blog space, we’ll visit three huts today and the others tomorrow.  The first hut we will come to is the Lonesome Lake Hut (NOBO mile 1810). It had its beginnings in 1876 as a fishing camp on Lonesome Lake. It officially became part of the hut system in 1929 – 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 has two bunkhouses with coed rooms for four to six people and a capacity of 48 people. It sits at an elevation of 2,760 feet on Cannon Mountain.

NH. Greenleaf hutThe Greenleaf Hut (mile 1819) was completed in 1930 and was the first hut in the system with running waters and indoor toilets, which reflected the concept these huts were built in line with a mountain motel not a hiker’s shelter. The design on Greenleaf became the model for Galehead and Zealand Falls, both constructed within the next year. Guests at Greenleaf and thru-hikers who pass by enjoy spectacular views of Franconia Ridge due to the hut’s 4.070 ft position on a prominent shoulder of Mount Lafayette. The hut contains two large coed bunkrooms sleeping 49 people.


NOBO mile 1825 (just four miles from the Greenleaf Hut) is the Galehead Hut. Construction on the hut was completed in 1932. In 1938 the Great New England Hurricane blew over all the surrounding trees supplying a temporary 360 degree view of the wilderness. The building survived the storm, but a brand-new hut took its place in June 2000. As the hut is located nearly 4,000 feet and five miles from the nearest trailhead, the vast majority of the building materials had to be carried in; new features for the hut included composting toilets, solar panels and a wind vane to produce power with little environmental impact, and the ability to withstand winds up to 125 mph. The hut stands at the edge of Pemigewasset Wilderness Area and offers four coed bunkrooms with a capacity of 38 visitors.

PhotoLonesome Lake Hut:

Photo Greenleaf

Photo Galehead:

Resources for information:

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Backpack, Hiking, New Hampshire, Shelter, Thru-Hike, Trail | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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