The Lakes of the Clouds Hut is located at about 5,000 ft elevation on the southwest side of Mt Washington (6,288 ft.) and is named for the alpine tarns located next to it – the Lakes of the Clouds.This hut is a popular rest stop for hikers climbing the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail which terminates here, just above treeline, as well as hikers climbing the Southern or Northern Presidentials, which form a continuous ridge with Mt. Washington in the center.
Situated on the shoulder of Mt. Washington, the hut has magnificent views of the entire Zealand Valley and of course Mt Washington, when it is not obscured by clouds. It also is known for ferociously bad weather and was originally built as an emergency shelter in 1901, before being renovated for use as a guest hut.
With bunk room accommodations for 90 (including dinner and breakfast), this hut is often booked solid with overnight guests. However, day hikers are free to stop and rest at the hut, on outside benches protected from the wind, or indoors in the hut's eating area. Fresh potable water and bathrooms are available, in addition to the the daily weather report and real time barometric pressure and wind speed readings.
The hut is closed to guests in winter with the exception of an emergency refuge room for hikers caught in Mt. Washington's notoriously dangerous weather.
In good weather, the hut is a fabulous place to stay if you want to investigate the rare flowers and vegetation that grow in Mt. Washington's Alpine Zone, or just explore the trail system the runs between the hut and Boot Spur (5,500 ft), the southeastern shoulder of Mt. Washington.
I was fortunate to hike here this year in sunny weather and had the opportunity to take in Tuckerman's Ravine and the Gulf of Slides, which are located to the east (lee side) and south of Washington. These areas are magnificent in summer but prone to avalanche in winter and are very dangerous, even for advanced climbers.
Given the hazardous winter conditions and proximity to Mt Washington, the Lakes of the Clouds Hut has a very short operating season and is only open for overnight guests from the beginning of June to mid-September. I've never stayed in a hut and don't think it's really my kind of thing, but the hut system is very popular with families and couples. If you're interested in making a reservation or finding out more information about the hut system, including those that remain open in winter, visit the AMC High Mountain Huts page.
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