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4 American Hut-to-Hut Hikes You Can Do Without a Passport

by Staff

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Ever dreamed of hiking, snowshoeing, or backcountry skiing from one cozy mountain cabin to another, a wood-fired stove warming it from the inside out, maybe a fully outfitted kitchen and a comfortable bunk awaiting your arrival so you don’t have to lug cooking and sleeping gear with you? The dream is the norm in many mountainous European destinations like Austria, but here in the U.S., hut-to-hut hikes are a bit fewer and farther between. 

Fortunately, whether you’re hoping to carve up a mountain of fresh powder this winter or are already getting your 2024 summer hiking plans in order, these four stateside hut hikes offer the chance to explore trails with a lighter pack, kick it in comfort come nightfall, and experience serious European mountain vibes—no passport required.

Doesn’t that look cozy? With this hut, there’s no need to shiver all night in your tent along the Seboeis Riverside Trail. (Photo: Marion Martin)

Seboeis Riverside Trail, Maine

This trail, which opened in 2022, may be short, but it offers an easy overnight trip all year round. The Seboeis Riverside Trail is 7.2 miles long and follows the Seboeis River through the dense pinewoods of the Maine Highlands and past mountain views. It’s not too far east of Baxter State Park’s north entrance and Mt. Kahtadin. Also, the path cuts through part of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, offering a picturesque escape whether you’re hiking in the summer or snowshoeing in the winter.

Two miles from the end of this out-and-back trail, a simple but cozy hut outfitted with four sleeping cots and a wood burning stove awaits. There are also campsites outside the post-and-beam lodge, offering plenty of space for hikers to rest or spend the night on a quick and easy two-day excursion.

The hut is fully self-service, and there are no bathroom or kitchen facilities, so you’ll have to pack in everything you need (minus the tent), but use of the hut is free thanks to funding from Penobscot River Trails.

backpackers in single-track trail surrounded by wildflowers with mountains in the distance
The hike to San Juan Huts is worth the trip itself. (Photo: San Juan Huts)

Sneffels Traverse, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Want to hike from Telluride to Ouray, Colorado, without all the hassle of heavy gear like tents and cookware? The San Juan backcountry huts along the roughly 35-mile Sneffels Traverse make it possible. The hike itself will lead you on a journey through alpine meadows full of wildflowers, past endless mountain peaks, and through aspen and pine forests.

You’ll stay below 14,000 feet on the north side of the mountain range, but if high-altitude peak-bagging is on your mind, there are plenty of opportunities to do that, too. You’ll be hiking largely in the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness, so you’re within close proximity of the eponymous 14er.  

At night, you’ll crash at one of four huts along the way, each between 5 to 9 miles apart. Each one sleeps up to eight people and is outfitted with a propane stove for cooking, wood fireplace, utensils and cookware (yup, even coffee filters and pour-overs and padded bunks and sleeping bags in the summer months). You can even arrange a supply drop at the halfway point if you don’t want to carry all your food. If planning a trip from June through November, you’ll have to book all four nights in advance ($275 per person for four nights, including a shuttle to the starting point), but in May and November you can book single nights at individual huts.

You have eight huts to choose from here. This is the Madison Spring Hut, an above-the-treeline hut between Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison in the Presidential Range. (Photo: Courtesy of AMC, Photo by Corey David Photography)

White Mountains, New Hampshire

In the White Mountains, along part of the Appalachian Trail, the Appalachian Mountain Club operates eight huts scattered over 50 miles of trail (both on and off the AT). Distances between huts range from 4.5 miles to 13.4 so you can choose your own adventure if you plan on doing the whole one-way route, but you can also opt to start from closer trailheads along the way for a night or two’s comfortable respite in the mountains.

Whatever the length of your trip, you’ll ascend to mountaintops and descend into valleys, pass waterfalls, take a dip in glacial lakes, enjoy sweeping views, and meander through endless pine forests as you rub shoulders with AT thru-hikers. 

The huts vary in size and style, but all are staffed and include a home-cooked dinner and breakfast, comfy cots, running water, and bathrooms. You can hike with a guide if you choose or book each hut yourself online. Off-season rates are much more reasonable with prices starting at $30 per night, but summer is another story: June dates can be as high as $139 per night per person.

alpenglow on mt rainier
Who doesn’t want to wake up to Mt. Rainier illuminated with alpenglow? (Photo: Cavan Images via Getty Images)

Mount Tahoma State Forest, Washington

In Mount Tahoma State Forest, not far from Mt. Rainier in Washington State, the Mount Tahoma Trails Association (MTTA) operates three huts (plus Copper Creek Hut outside state forest boundaries): High Hut, The Yurt, and Snow Bowl. What that means is that skiers and snowshoers in the winter and hikers in the summer can make the trek up Forest Service roads to stay at any or all of the welcoming structures.

High Hut is perched on a ridge with epic views of Mt. Rainier, The Yurt is located in pine woods and promises the most solitude and seclusion, and Snow Bowl is the roomiest and most homey.

The treks to each differ in distance and difficulty, but all shelters feature a propane fireplace to keep them toasty, cots for sleeping, utensils, and toilet paper for the outhouses. You will need to make reservations in advance, which cost $15 per night, plus have a WA State Discover Pass in the summer or a Washington State Parks Sno-Park Permit in the winter.

Go Farther

Still want to plan a hut hike in Europe? Check out the newly completed Arlberg Trail in the Austrian Alps. It takes you through five towns, utilizes lifts and gondolas, covers up to 32 miles, and offers the option to either backpack from hut to hut or kick it in comfort and style at 3- to 4-star hotels in the towns you pass through. Find out more and start planning your three-day hike here

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