The AMC Huts at 125 Years Young
The 8 AMC huts in the White Mountains are spaced a day’s hike apart. Though not all hikes are created equal. For example, the 7-mile long trek from Galehead to Zealand Falls Hut was a thigh burner with close to 5,000 feet of elevation change, including a grueling uphill climb on the AT from Galehead Hut to the 4,902-foot summit of South Twin mountain. While the 4.8-mile hike from Mizpah Spring to Lakes of the Clouds Hut, if weather is decent, is for the most part a level ridge walk with astounding mountain views all around you.
Whether your legs are weary or feeling strong after your day of bagging peaks, you can rest assured that once you arrive at any of the huts, they are clean and exceptionally well-run by the Hut Crew or Croo as they’re known in these parts. The AMC runs a well-oiled machine. All rooms and bathroom are dirt-free. Lemonade, hot water for tea, and usually a snack like frosted carrot cake is waiting upon arrival. At Galehead and Zealand Falls, we were told by the Croo to find any available bunk bed. Mizpah Spring and Lakes of the Clouds had designated rooms. My wife and I brought bed sheets, which worked fine, but many hikers simply bring a sleeping bag to throw down on the mattress. There are hooks nearby to hang wet clothing (after a day of sweating), jackets, and enough room to store packs and hiking boots.
With such a long legacy, you would expect these huts to be small cabins in the woods. 125 years ago, they might have started that way. But the AMC has been revamping these lodgings for years. So now the Lakes of the Clouds has a glorious dining room with floor to ceiling glass windows that overlook the panorama of ridges and peaks. Both Galehead and Zealand Falls offer front porches with more magnificent mountain views. Mizpah Spring’s dining room is a big cavernous space, with high ceiling, where people love to congregate and share hiking stories. At Zealand Falls and Lakes of the Clouds, water is close by to go for a swim or simply cool off those overworked feet. Suffice to say that Joe Dodge, the founder of the AMC huts system knew exactly what he was doing when he chose these locales for his huts. So bite into that fresh baked honey-oat bread and gape in awe at the panoply of peaks, the reward for clambering over rocks and roots all day.
(Photo by Lisa Leavitt)