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Gray Knob Cabin on Mt Adams

Gray Knob Cabin is operated by the Randolph Mountain Club
Gray Knob Cabin is operated by the Randolph Mountain Club

Gray Knob Cabin (4375′) is a primitive hut located on Mt Adams (NH), just below treeline. It’s maintained and operated by The Randolph Mountain Club (the RMC), the trail maintenance organization that does the lion share of trail construction and maintenance in the Northern Presidential area of the White Mountain National Forest. The RMC is a very small club, but it’s had a huge impact on the  the development and legacy of the White Mountain Trail System and many of the great trail architects and builders lived in the town of Randolph (then called Durant) at the foot of the higher summits.

Unlike nearby Madison Hut (run by Appalachian Mountain Club), the RMC’s Gray Knob is a no-frills, self-supported cabin that caters more to serious hikers and climbers than the family-oriented groups that the AMC Huts attract. While there are mattresses provided for sleeping (on the floor), you need to pack in your own sleeping bag, food, stove, and fuel. Water is available from a nearby spring and there’s a composting outhouse. Gray Knob is also open year round and a good place to stay before or after a winter summit of Mt Adams, the second highest peak in New Hampshire. Cost is $15/night for RMC members (click for latest prices.)

The upstairs sleeping area at Gray Knob Cabin
The upstairs sleeping area at Gray Knob Cabin

The inside of the cabin is pretty rudimentary. There’s a small private room off the first floor for caretaker, a breakfast nook, and a kitchen area for rinsing cookware (all drippings goes into a bucket since there’s no drain or plumbing) and a stove which is only for caretaker use. If you plan to cook at the cabin, bring a canister stove; all other fuel types, including white gas, must be used outside to avoid burning down the cabin.

Guest sleep upstairs in an open loft and lights out is 10 pm. Bring ear plugs. There are no reservations accepts and space is strictly first come, first serve. Cash is accepted, and new this year (2017), credit cards, and Paypal (click for details).

The RMC also operates other shelters in the Northern Presidentials including Crag Camp, The Perch Campsites and Lean-to, and The Log Cabin, which is also a lean-to. They all have their own character and are worth staying at some point in your hiking career.

Gray Knob Cabin is located just below treeline off the Lowes Path
Gray Knob Cabin is located just below treeline off the Lowes Path

I stayed at Gray Knob about a week ago for the first time, after a blustery day above-treeline in freezing rain and dense fog. I’d planned to stay at the Perch Campsite, where I’ve camped many times in the past. But the wind was really blowing, from the north too, which would have left me very exposed, so I decided to stay in the cabin. I was the only guest that night and I slept great while the wind howled outside.

Gray Knob Cabin – definitely a good shelter from the storm.

Written 2017.

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  1. Another great benefit of staying here in the winter ( or just stopping in for a snack break before or after an ascent of Adams or Jefferson) is that it’s a heated cabin. In order to keep the structural wood dry and prevent rot and mold, the cabin is heated continuously. In particular, it’s practical use as a stopover warming hut positioned at treeline ( and usually well broken out at least that far) makes makes a northern ascent of Jefferson in the winter more appealing to me than the Jewell route, especially in conditions with a westerly or southwesterly wind (which is blocked by the cone of Jefferson much of the way).

    • How is this remote cabin kept heated all the time? What is the source of the fuel?

      • There is a hot spring about 100 ft to the right. Water circulates through pipes, and is also used in the sauna.

      • Funny guy roro.

        Roger, its heated with a wood stove. The caretaker keeps it warm-ish for the reasons Paul said.

        My gf and I planned on staying at the Perch earlier this week for our Presi traverse, but the weather forecast for our scheduled Washingron summit day was not very favorable. We decided to skip the Perch, Adams, Jefferson and Clay and summit Washington on a beautiful warm day and stayed at Lakes, instead. We will hike Jefferson and Adams next weekend, weather permitting, and stay at one of the RMC huts.

  2. Back in the day (circa 1958) Gray Knob had an outhouse situated about 100 yards away along a face. It was perched on a couple of beams across a cut in the cliff face and while I remember it as very sturdy, my lasting impression is that it was a hundred feet or more before the final landing. My first sight was in the dark, so the prurient interest of a hiking boy scout was rewarded with a searing memory of disasster avoided.

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