You can’t have huts without trails. Surprisingly there is no communication at a national level in USA between the huts and trails communities. Next month a conversation will begin at the International Trails Symposium (ITS).
The ITS is a rich mix of hikers, operators of many of the major trail systems in the world, federal and state land managers, and people interested in all aspects of trail planning, building, and operations. It turns out most of these folks don’t know much about hut systems, but they are curious to learn more about accommodation systems for long-distance human-powered travelers.
With its highly-organized system of 1,000 backcountry huts New Zealand (NZ) — about the same size (area and population) as Oregon — is the hut capital of the world. By comparison, the USA has about 110 huts operating within 17 different hut-to-hut systems; Switzerland and Norway each have about 500 huts. Every nation’s approach to outdoor recreation — including how its citizens organize overnight stays in the wild — is based on local causes and conditions such as geography, size of the country, climate, terrain, history, economics, politics, and cultural values. Shelter from the Storm is a richly illustrated, well-researched history of the causes and conditions that created NZ’s unique hut culture, and a beautiful tribute to the huts themselves.
This book tells the story of how a geographically remote island nation came to create a robust international outdoor culture, and how a disparate collection of huts built for other purposes – I like the phrase infrastructure lying in wait — came to form the backbone of the world’s largest hut system. Continue reading →
A new hut system, Adirondack Hamlets to Huts, appears to be coming together quickly. In 2015 the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) contacted Joe Dadey and Jack Drury to request that they propose and help to “fast-track” the implementation of a hut system in the Adirondack Park. In response to the DEC’s invitation, they produced a “Conceptual Plan for a Hut-to-Hut Destination-based Trail System” analyzing and ranking 26 potential routes. I reported on this plan last month.
This is a preliminary overview of the 15 hut-to-hut systems in the USA. There are a number of systems under development or expanding, and I’m hoping readers will tip me off to others that should be included. Currently these 15 systems comprise 107 huts, yurts, and cabins, and offer 1,496 beds for long distance hut-to-hut hikers, bikers and skiers. This sketch of hut-to-hut infrastructure in the USA provides an overview by region, and very briefly discusses: business models, recreational uses, staffing, and some. Based on the data presented, it concludes with some musings about the future of hut systems supporting long distance human-powered travelers in the USA. hut to hut in usa
Notes kindly compiled by Leyton Jump, Manager of High Hut, Mt. Tahoma Trails Association
The Mt. Tahoma Trails Association operates and manages for public use a year-round hut-to-hut trail system adjacent to the slopes of Mt. Rainier, offering trail users of differing skill levels and economic backgrounds a safe and inspirational backcountry experience. MTTA leadership maintains a functional working partnership with all stakeholders (MTTA members, trail users, volunteers, and our host land owners) based on mutual trust and honesty. Volunteers provide labor to achieve this mission.
The state of hut operations outlined by Ben Dodge, Executive Director of Tenth Mountain Division Huts, is reprinted from their Summer 2015 Newsletter with permission. Hut maintenance is featured. Retiring Hawk Greenaway’s contributions as hutmaster are acknowledged and Morgan Boyles is introduced as his successor.
Huts and yurts in Colorado and southern Wyoming offer everything from the luxurious to rustic in backcountry, off-the grid living. A 2014 survey of 25 hut and yurt operators from the Colorado Hut and Yurt Alliance, highlights many creative solutions to the everyday problems of providing water, light, heat, sanitation and communication in remote locations. The survey represents 56 huts and 10 yurts that operate on either public or private lands.
By Ben Dodge, Executive Director, Tenth Mountain Division Hut System
[Editors note: Many hut systems struggle with clunky online reservations systems. Tenth Mountain Division Huts designed their own and have successfully upgraded it to handle online reservations. Thanks to Ben for this first piece in a series of “Operational Notes” to share hut management practices and innovations. — Sam Demas]
Tenth Mountain Division Huts decided in late 2013 to add the capability to book hut trips online, in addition to booking by phone. This decision was based on feedback received from hut visitors who stated their preference to book online because they were familiar and comfortable with online commerce, and to book anytime they wanted including evenings and weekends.