BackpackingHikingHuts & FiretowersMount Rainier

High Hut Mount Rainier: $15/Night Backcountry Stay

High Hut Stats
  • Reservations Required
  • 7.9 Miles Total
  • 2,375 Feet Elevation Gain
  • Parking Permits Required

Have you ever wanted to stay in an alpine hut on top of a mountain with incredible views of Mount Rainier? If so, you have to check out High Hut. This is by far the coolest place to stay in Washington State, and for only $15/night! However, you’ll have to hike about 4 miles to get there and then another 4 miles back. For anyone who is into backcountry camping, this is going to feel like a luxurious experience! The experience was so amazing that I immediately booked another trip. If you have never been to High Hut and want to experience it, I’m going to give you a detailed guide on how to book, what to expect at the hut, and all the things you can leave at home. Finally, I’ll offer a tip on securing last-minute reservations. You can find my AllTrails route here.

Booking Your Reservation at High Hut

High Hut is managed by the Mount Tahoma Trails Association. Every year, there is a Gala held at REI Seattle, which typically happens on the first Saturday in November. To book spots, people donate to enter a raffle drawing. If picked, you can choose the date you want. Almost all the weekends will be booked during this Gala. Online reservations will open a few days after the Gala; many mid-week and off-season dates are available. To reserve online, you can visit the MTTA webpage.

Find the dates that are available, select your arrival date, and then your departure date. From there, you can select how many people (8 people is the capacity of High Hut) and then enter your payment details. You should shortly receive a confirmation email.

Parking Permits are Required and How to Obtain Them

During the winter season (November 1st to April 30th), you must have a Washington State Parks Sno-Park Permit. Since you are staying overnight, you will have to purchase the Seasonal Non-Motorized Sno-Park Permit, which costs $50. For the rest of the season, you can just use a WA State Discover Pass.

Pet Policy

Dogs are allowed on the trails for day trips but cannot go inside the hut, so leave your pup at home if you plan to stay overnight.

Getting to High Hut Trailhead

The start of the trail is located at the Lower Sno-Park South Trailhead, which is about 6 miles from the town of Ashford, Washington. In the winter, this would be the main parking lot. There is the Upper Lot another mile or so up the road that can be accessed during the summer. You can check the MTTA Facebook page to find the most up-to-date road conditions.

The Trail to High Hut

I started my hike up to High Hut at the Lower Trailhead. I had attempted to drive up to the Upper Lot but ran into some snow and ice, so I just decided to park at the Lower Lot. If there has been significant snowfall recently, you’ll just want to park at the Lower Lot. They will likely close the gate, so you won’t even be able to drive up to the Upper Lot.

The entire trail up is a ski trail and is groomed during the winter so skiers can use the trails safely. If you’re hiking, it’s important to stay on the edge of the trail and off the groomed sections so skiers have a nicely groomed trail to use.

The trail up is very straightforward, and you should have no problem navigating up to the Hut. The trail is well marked with signs that point towards High Hut. There are a few other reservable accommodations nearby like Snowbowl Hut and The Yurt. These are always a great alternative if High Hut is booked for the dates you want.

On the way up, you’ll get some awesome views of distant peaks now and then, and even Mount Rainier emerges from the treeline. Just wait until you see the views at High Hut! Most classify this hike as hard, but for me, I thought it was moderate. It’s just a steady elevation gain the entire way with little pause. With snowshoes, you could definitely expect a slight increase in difficulty.

Arriving at High Hut

My arrival at High Hut was a good feeling after trudging through the snow. I was surprised at how large the hut was. I thought it would have been smaller. I was hoping for amazing views of Mount Rainier upon arrival but got clouds instead – typical Pacific Northwest winter vibes. I got lucky with sunset and sunrise, though. Mount Rainier made an appearance.

Inside High Hut

High Hut was built in 1990 with the help of devoted volunteers and has evolved over the years with added updates. Despite being on the summit of a mountain, it feels very accommodating, with everything you could possibly need for an enjoyable stay. The kitchen features a propane stove and cooktop for cooking, a thermostat-controlled propane fireplace for heating, an LED lighting system powered by solar panels, a sand-filtered water system for drinking water, and an outhouse just feet from the hut. For sleeping, there’s a double bunk bed on the main floor and six foam mattress pads in the loft.

There’s a detailed manual that explains all the various systems of the hut and how to operate them. You shouldn’t have any issues with that. The only thing that gave us difficulty was the water filtration system. It must have been clogged with debris, so it was taking an extremely long time for water to filter.

What’s Included at the Hut

High Hut comes stocked with a ton of things to make your stay comfortable. You’ll be able to leave some gear behind, which should make your pack lighter or allow you to bring more food! The Hut comes stocked with:

  • Utensils, plates, pans, pots
  • Dish soap, paper towels, cleaning supplies, trash bags
  • 3 inch sleeping mats, pillows
  • Rubber rain boots
  • Games and puzzles (with missing pieces)
  • Food storage buckets

Important Hut Etiquette

You will be sharing the Hut with other strangers, most likely unless you have booked all 8 spots. You’ll definitely make new friends like I did, but it’s important to be respectful of others. And remember, the hut is open to the public during the day for those who don’t have a reservation. With regard to the to-do things within the hut, you should consider the following:

  • Carry your trash out with you
  • Keep snow buckets full and top it off for the next guests
  • Conserve the lights. Solar power isn’t that abundant during the long cloudy winter days in the PNW
  • Keep the floors dry, wipe up any puddles
  • Clean the kitchen/stove tops
  • Shovel walkways if there’s snow
  • Close doors and windows before you leave

Staying at High Hut was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had here in the Pacific Northwest. I love roughing it out in the backcountry, but sometimes you just want great views with some comfort. You’ll get that at High Hut. I met some really great people at the Hut who all shared the same love for the outdoors as me. We sat around the table all night talking about past hiking trips we’ve done. When Mount Rainier emerged from the clouds, we’d all run outside to enjoy its presence.

A Tip to Secure Last Minute Reservations at High Hut

If you are trying to reserve a spot between December and March, you can e-mail reservations@skimtta.org and request that you be added to their cancellations list.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button