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Shapleigh Bunk House in Crawford Notch

Shapleigh Bunk House in Crawford Notch
Shapleigh Bunk House in Crawford Notch

Shapleigh Bunk House is a 16 bed building at the AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch where hikers can stay and still make full use of the Highland Center’s facilities, including its showers, dining hall, library, and gear room. I stayed there a few weeks ago and it’s shockingly affordable, considering the prices that the AMC charges guests to stay in the main Highland Center Lodge. If you’ve been to the Highland Center, you’ve probably walked by the building and never even realized what it was.

For example, I paid $33.50 9 (AMC member rate) for a bottom bunk that had flannel sheets, a pillow, and wool blankets, and an enormous hot breakfast. I had to be in Twin Mountain by 7am for an early morning start and decided I’d rather stay in the White’s overnight than get up at 4 am to drive north.

The night I stayed at Shapleigh there were only 3 other guests in the bunkhouse, which has two bunk rooms. There’s also common area and even a kitchen (microwave and sink) separate from the bunk rooms if you want to cook for yourself or hang out. The temperature was a balmy 70 degrees when I got there and I ended up turning it down to 65 for the night because I was too warm. I was asleep by 9:30 pm and slept undisturbed until 5:30 am, no doubt helped by the red ale I’d quaffed in the Highland Center kitchen before retiring.

Bunk House Interior
Bunk House Interior

Breakfast is officially served at 6:30 am, but I arrived a half an hour early and the chef kindly fed me fresh bacon, heeps of hash browns, toast and jam, bagels and cream cheese, and a bottomless cappuccino. I didn’t want to be late for our hiking meet time, but it all worked out great. I’ve been known to pitch a tent just about anywhere to save a buck, but it was worth $33 to sleep in a warm bed and get a sumptuous hot meal the next morning before a big hike.

I hear Shapleigh is a bit more crowded on weekends and that some groups even book the whole building (all 16 bunks) out for the night. Still, I bet it’s an optimal place to stay for mid-week winter hikes and I plan on staying there again.

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7 comments

  1. Great call Phil!! I could not get to sleep yesterday with a preoccupied mind about a hike up the Ammonusuc some time this month or maybe next. Last spring Gina and I stopped here and just looked around but now you have me sold on a possible adventure stop! So much for sleeping today now!!

  2. Couldn't agree more! I first stayed in Shapleigh about 3 years ago when our Scout troop used it as a base for skiing Bretton woods, and I used it in St Patty's day last winter for a Pierce/Eisenhower hike. I've learned the hard way that a 3 hour drive to the trailhead at Oh-Dark-Stupid in the morning leaves me exhausted. And there are so many great hikes within a 30-minute radius.

    I had the whole place to myself mid-week. The building has 2 bunk rooms (4 & 12?) so even if you're not alone, it's still not necessarily a crowd scene.

  3. Couldn't agree more! We've stayed at Shapleigh a number of times and it's a great deal – perticularly with the great breakfast included. The only potential downside is the snoring (just like in the huts) – but that's what earplugs are for. :) This is definitely AMC's hidden gem.

  4. I never heard of this place but i think it will be useful in the future.I have also grown weary of getting up at 4 am to hike the whites so going up the night before makes more and more sense. I am going to try the white mountains hostel this weekend, have you ever stood there? It should only be 23 a night but does not include breakfast.

  5. Grant – I have a few friends who swear by that hostel in North Conway. It's apparently very clean and run by hikers. I'm planning to spend a few nights there myself a little later in the winter. much cheaper than Pinkam Lodge which charges over $70/night for a bunk! Let me know how you like it.

  6. Time to update it from "is" as hidden gem to "WAS" a hidden gem!! ;>) Where is the hostel at Grant? Even having been born and raised here, everything is a 2 1/2-3 hour drive from the seacoast so it's worth 35-40 bucks for a deal like this. Snoring Mark? What snoring?! LOL!

  7. You're right, I walked right by it two years ago. Definitely have to keep it on the list. I don't usually have an issue with other people snoring…so long as it doesn't interrupt mine :)

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