5 Hidden Huts for Any Season

Hidden in the woods or atop mountains, these huts are all available (some by reservation), outfitted with wood stoves and ready to serve as your backcountry base camps.

Hadsel-Mares Cabin, Barton, Vt.

wheeler-pond-camp_hadsell-mares_10-2012_megan-duni
Two cabins, set on the shores of Wheelter Pond, can serve as backcountry outposts for exploring the NEK. Photo courtesy Green Mountain Club. 

For a getaway in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, reserve a night in one of two secluded cabins on the shores of Wheeler Pond at the edge of Willoughby State Forest in Barton, Vt. While the Beaver Dam Cabin is closed for repairs (and could open as soon as next year), the neighboring 650- sq. ft. Hadsel-Mares Cabin has a simple design with a wood stove and sleeping space for six in an elevated loft. While lacking electricity, running water and cell service, you’ll have a massive outdoor playground, including over 40 miles of trails in the Willoughby State Forest (including trails to the summits Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor). In the fall, there’s paddling on ponds and lakes. In the winter, bring your skis to explore the backcountry glades developed by the Northeast Kingdom Backcountry Coalition in Willoughby State Forest or go ice climbing on the cliffs above Lake Willoughby. Reservations are $65 per night or $45 per night if you book for more than seven days with 30 percent off for GMC members. Visit greenmountainclub.org for reservation information.

 

Mount Mansfield’s Stone Hut, Stowe, Vt.

Emily Johnson - Approaching the Mansfield Stone Hut - Green Mountains, Vermont, USA ©Brian Mohr/ EmberPhoto - All rights reserved
Emily Johnson – Approaching the Mansfield Stone Hut – Green Mountains, Vermont, USA
©Brian Mohr/ EmberPhoto – All rights reserved

In late September, a crane lifted a new roof onto the sandblasted stone walls of Vermont’s most popular backcountry cabin, Stowe’s Stone Hut. After last December’s devastating fire, the Stone Hut is being rebuilt to  the original 1936 design the Civilian Conservation Corps envisioned. It’s outfitted with a large stone hearth, a wood stove and wooden bunks that can sleep 12. Reserved for trail keepers in the summer, but open to the public in the winter, the hut had been so popular it took winning a place in a lottery system to get a night there. For those lucky enough to land a stay, the prize was often first tracks down Nosedive or Goat at Stowe, or the numerous backcountry lines off the summit.

On December 23, 2015, Timothy and George Carpenter (whose parents, Jake and Donna founded Burton) went up to prepare the cabin for some friends who were arriving later, stoked the fire and left the wood stove door open.  It’s a cautionary tale: the friends never arrived, a piece of wet wood leaning against the stove caught fire and destroyed much of the original structure.

There was a huge public outcry and thanks to a $150,000 donation from the Carpenters, as well as others, the hut will be restored in time for this winter. This August, the Vermont Department of Forest Parks and Recreation awarded a $276,500 bid to Morrisville builder Donald P. Blake Inc. who by press time in late September, already had the roof, floor and walls rebuilt. The cabin, which is used by trail keepers in the summer, has only been available for rental during the winter for $225 a night. Check vtstateparks.com for updates and reservations.

 

Bolton Lodge & Bryant Camp, Bolton, VT.

Bolton's Bryant Cabin is undergoing renovations and should be ready by winter.
Bolton’s Bryant Cabin is undergoing renovations and should be ready by winter.

Set high among the alpine forests above Bolton Valley’s Nordic and alpine ski trails, are two cabins built in the 1930s by volunteers with the Burlington chapter of the Green Mountain Club. The Bolton Lodge was designed after the cottages of Wales and Ireland, with a stone foundation, stucco walls and bunks for 12.

The nearby Bryant Camp has a sleeping loft for six and features plain wooden construction.  Located near both the Long Trail and the Catamount Trail, these two cabins have been popular overnight spots for hikers heading north to Mount Mansfield and for skiers exploring Bolton Valley’s alpine and Nordic ski trails.

Interior of Bolton Lodge, before renovations began.
Interior of Bolton Lodge, before renovations began. Bolton and Byrant Camp photos courtesy GMC.

The two cabins can also be a starting point for backcountry skiers traveling from Bolton Valley to the Trapp Family Lodge, by way of the Catamount Trail. Restoration work started this year and both will have new bunks, wood stoves, shelves and cooking spaces when finished. Volunteers hope to have work finished on Bryant Camp by the first snowfall of this season while Bolton Lodge might wait until next year. Suggested donation, as with all staffed shelters on the Long Trail, is $5. Find out more at greenmountainclub.org.

 

Bell Gates Cabin, Braintree, Vt.

Bell Gates cabins
Bell Gates cabin under renovations. Photo by Kyle Crichton 

Set into the mountains surrounding the central Vermont town of Braintree, just off Route 12A, is a backcountry skier’s paradise. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers with the Rochester Area Sport Trails Alliance, you can explore the beautifully crafted glades off of 2,901-foot Skidoo Mountain and follow a skin-track back to the top to earn your turns all day long. After a long day, this winter you’ll be able to retire to the a fully restored cabin with a new woodstove that will sleep up to ten. It’s available on a first-come, first-served basis and you have to locate it yourself. Visit rastavt.org for maps and information.

Merck Forest Cabins, Rupert, Vt.

For a secluded getaway in the southern Vermont forest, you can book one of eight cabins at 3,162-acre Merck Forest & Farmland Center in Rupert, Vt. The cabins sleep between two and twelve and are furnished with tables, wood stoves, bunks, porches and rocking chairs. Some have lofted bunks and space for tents nearby.

One of a half
Merck Forest’s Nenorod cabin sleeps six with a cozy wood stove. 

Most of these cabins within easy hiking distance (a mile or two) from the visitor’s center and have views of hay pastures and surrounding mountains in southern Vermont. Come with friends for a weekend of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on over 30 miles of trails that wander through 3,000 acres.

Cabins are $50 to $75 in the summer and $65 to $90 in the fall, winter and spring. Head to merckforest.org to book.

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