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.
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.