The views of Mount Rainier from Mount Tahoma's deluxe huts are nothing short of majestic. Photo by Anna Brones.
January 25, 2017
Could you use a refreshing romp in the snow right about now?
Looking at your holiday-thinned wallet and thinking you can’t afford it?
The huts, yurt and trails operated by the Mount Tahoma Trails Association (MTTA) offer some of the best winter vacation bargains in the Northwest. Located on Mount Rainier’s frosty skirts, this is one of Washington’s lesser-known gems, with cozy accommodations, stellar ski conditions and unparalleled vistas. Best of all, a night’s stay costs just $15 per person.
The trails and huts at Mount Tahoma are maintained by dedicated and hard-working volunteers. The trail system is for non-motorized winter recreation only, and you can back-country ski or snowshoe on more than 30 miles of groomed and ungroomed trails. Make a day trip out of it, or spend the night at one of three huts or a yurt. If you’re just on a day trek, you can duck into one of the huts to warm up at no charge.
Tour de Huts
Bonus! On Jan. 28, MTTA is bringing back Tour de Huts, an open-house style day of exploring some of the huts and trails in the South District. A popular event last year, MTTA organizers expect even more visitors this year.
“It’s not a competition,” says Michael Wenger, an MTTA ski patrol volunteer and event organizer. “It’s just a family-friendly, dog-friendly, kid-friendly day to get out and discover these trails.”
Keep in mind this event is a decent workout whether you do it on skis or snowshoes. You must be able to comfortably ski or snowshoe at least 9 miles round-trip to visit the closest huts to the parking area. Allow two to three hours each way to make it to the huts from the Sno-Park.
Register here, and join fellow explorers between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. for this “open hut” day of winter fun. Check out the trails and woods, and enjoy a warm up and a bite to eat at each hut!
Take a stroll to the bowl! Bruni's Snow Bowl hut is a climb, but absolutely worth it!
The Mount Tahoma Trails Systemstarted about 20 years ago when area ski enthusiasts saw an opportunity for a great skiing destination in the logging roads around the Ashfordarea. MTTA volunteers built a hut system for users to refresh in and enjoy. MTTA volunteers have maintained them since. MTTA even provides the volunteer ski patrols for the area!
“Hut” hardly does justice to the MTTA shelters. Three are more like vacation cabins. Each has a full kitchen, furnishings and room for eight to 14 visitors (depending on which hut you pick) to spend the night on comfy sleeping pads. You’ll need to pack in your own food, sleeping bags and personal amenities, but the rest is covered! Even the yurt, the smallest of the shelters, is amply equipped for cooking and sleeps six. Solar panels provide electricity, and propane keeps the buildings toasty warm. Wide, bright windows open to stunning views of the surrounding woods with Mount Rainier rising in the background.
A cabin with a view? We aren’t kidding! The view of Mount Rainier is most dramatic from High Hut. Photo by Anna Brones
You can reserve space in the huts at the MTTA website. MTTA members say that though winter weekends fill up fast, it never hurts to check for cancellations or extra spaces at the cabins. Weekdays rarely fill up, however. Have a little extra vacation time coming? What better way to spend it!
Getting tempted yet? Here’s the scoop on this unique—and penny-wise—vacation destination!
You can choose between two Sno-Park locations to get to the MTTA trails and huts: 92 Roadto the north of Ashford, and 1 Road to the south.
The 92 Road Sno-Park gets you out on the most popular trails. Gentle trails and easy elevation gains make this a great trail for families and beginners. About halfway through the park, at 4,200 feet elevation, you’ll find Copper Creek Hut. If you’re just skiing for the day, pull in and warm up. Bring some hot chocolate packets to heat up on the stove; then, relax on the couch while you enjoy the fire and views of Mount Rainier, Sawtooth Ridge and the Nisqually Valley.
There’s plenty of room, snow, and scenic vistas for everyone at Copper Creek Hut. Photo by Anna Brones.
Ready for more snow? Plenty more groomed and ungroomed trails around and above the hut await exploration. For spectacular views of Mount Rainier, head all the way out to Puyallup Ridge Lookout, and be sure to bring your camera. Spend the day, and then stay the night! Copper Creek Hut sleeps 14 in its cozy loft. Bear in mind that if you reserve a spot in a hut, you will be sharing it with other trail users during the day and possibly during the night.
For more challenging trails, head to 1 Road for more than 27 miles of trails! None of these routes rates high in difficulty. However,the steep elevation gains and more technical routes make good sport for the experienced—and athletic—skier. And when you need a rest, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so. Here, you’ll find two huts and a yurt for hanging out during the day—and night, if you have reservations.
Enjoy other great amenities on the MTTA trails like this gazebo built for warming up and enjoying spectacular 360-degree views of the Mount Tahoma area.
Expert telemarkers will love Bruni’s Snow Bowl Hut. It sits atop a large, deep snowy dish perfect for challenging a telemarker’s skill. The hut sleeps 14 and has a wide deck for enjoying the winter night skies.
High Hut, at 4,760 feet, is the most challenging chalet to reach but has some big rewards! Glide out through groomed logging roads or the back country past Anderson Lake and, weather permitting, enjoy the best unobstructed view of Mount Rainier’s majesty in the entire region! The breathtaking vistas of the Cascades Range are unparalleled. The hut sleeps eight. Stay the night and have breakfast by the big picture windows. Snowshoers will relish the deep forested stands ripe for exploration.
Settle in for a long winter’s nap after your great day of skiing at the Mount Tahoma Trail Association’s yurt. Photo by Anna Brones.
At the base of Griffin Mountain, the yurt is the smallest of the MTTA shelters but perhaps the most unique. A wide, round tent, it’s a destination with no shortage of funky charm. More intimate than the huts, it sleeps six and has a relaxed atmosphere great for communing with old friends and maybe making new ones!
Be safe! Winds get rough in this area. Note wind speeds when checking the weather before you go! Adverse conditions can crop up without warning. Be prepared and ALWAYS carry the 10 essentials every time you head out. Be strong! You WILL need to be able to ski or snowshoe at least 5 miles each way carrying all your gear and food to reach these huts. Please remember to bring the right snow gear for the trail you plan to enjoy. Follow winter recreation etiquette, and stay in trail lanes designated for your sport. Reminder: these areas are for snowshoers and skiers. Hiking boots and traction shoes will not be enough to get you through the drifts. Remember! If you stay the night, especially in the larger accommodations, chances are you will be bunking with others. Leave your quarters clean and ready for the next guest! Be courteous and follow house rules!
Season:Winter season is Dec. 1 until at least March 31. Snow levels may delay the opening or cause Sno-Parks to close early. Check conditions before you head out. Permits:To visit Mount Tahoma Trail System for the day, you’ll need either a Daily Sno-Park Permit AND a Discover Pass (one day or annual) or a Seasonal Non-Motorized Sno-Park Permit. For longer stays you will need a Seasonal Non-Motorized permit. Check out our Sno-Park 101 blogfor more information. 92 Road directions: This park is located six miles east of Elbe on Highway 706. At 278th Street East go north for half a mile. Continue five miles north on Roads 8, 9 and 92 to parking area. 1 Road directions: Take Hwy 706 east from Elbe 6.5 miles. Turn right to enter the Tahoma State Forest on DNR 1 Rd (at the yellow church). Follow forest road for 2.7 miles, turning left to continue on 1 Rd. Follow .4 miles and turn right. Follow remaining 2.9 miles to the 1 Rd Sno-Park.
Map: Find a map for the 1 Roadand 92 Road Sno-Parks on the State Parks website.
Want the latest news from the MTTA? Follow the Mount Tahoma Trails Association on Twitter!
Stay safe on the trail! Check out the Northwest Weather & Avalanche Center for avalanche conditions.
We want to see your winter recreation adventures! Upload your Sno-Park adventure story and photos here.