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Lakes Of The Clouds Hut (elevation 5,012) is the highest of the huts, and also the largest and most popular. Given its spectacular setting at the base of Mount Washington, the latter is hardly surprising.

It can be reached by hiking up from the valleys, or by taking the road or cog rail to the summit of Mt. Washington and hiking down. Many of those who choose the second alternative seem to forget that they will have to hike back up to get their transportation off the mountain!

This hut can be used for an overnight trip to Mts. Washington and Monroe, or as part of a three day (two night) hut based traverse of the Presidential Range.

The AMC web site has a page on the Lakes Of The Clouds Hut, with information on the hut, season of operation and rates. Here I give hiking information that supplements what they offer, describing the most frequently used access routes (with distances, elevation gains and book time), and some of the trips that can utilize the hut, including hut to hut trips.

Getting to Lakes Of The Clouds Hut and Back

Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail

The shortest route, and the one with the least elevation gain, is by the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail (ow: 3.1 miles; 2,500 feet; 2:50). The trail is definitely not as easy as the numbers seem to imply. Above Gem Pool is a very steep section, it has reasonably good footing but is nevertheless aerobically challenging. This is followed by a less steep section that goes over many open ledges, which can be slippery when wet or icy. Starting at these ledges the trail has some fine views.

The trail is in the trees almost to the hut, as a result it is the least exposed to the elements, and is the best way to leave the hut in bad weather.

Ammonoosuc Ravine and Jewell Trail Loop

A very popular loop trip to Lakes Hut is done by going up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail on the first day. On the second day climb Mount Washington by the Crawford Path, and return to the trailhead by the Jewell Trail (ow: 6.6 miles; 1,200 feet; 3:55). This trip does not return to the hut, so hikers must carry all their belongings up to the summit of Mount Washington on the second day.

Tuckerman's Ravine Trail

This route (ow: 4.6 miles; 3,450 feet; 4:00) is more strenuous and more exposed than the one by the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, but also much more scenic.

The first two miles to the Hermit Lake Shelter follow a tractor road that is wide and moderately (but constantly!) steep. This is in the trees with only occasional views. From Hermit Lake on it is above the trees, with excellent views and corresponding exposure. First it ascends moderately to the floor of the ravine, then it ascends, much more steeply, up the headwall.

At the top of the headwall the trail reaches Tuckerman Junction, where the Tuckerman Crossover Trail leads to the hut across the Bigelow Lawn.

Taking the more scenic (and more strenuous) Lion's Head Trail adds about 0.3 miles and no extra elevation gain.

Crawford Path

This is a much longer route (ow: 7.0 miles; 3,450 feet; 5:15), though the grades are gentle almost the whole way. There are a few areas of scrub between Mount Pierce (formerly Clinton) and Mount Eisenhower, beyond the latter the trail is continuously exposed. In good weather that makes a spectacular trip. The reverse trip has little elevation gain (ow: 7.0 miles, 350 feet, 3:40).

Crawfords Path bypasses all of the summits, for Mount Pierce add about 0.2 miles with 100 feet of elevation gain (0:10), while Mount Eisenhower and Mount Monroe each add about 0.1 mile and 350 feet (0:15).

From the Mount Washington Summit

Many visitors who reach the summit of Mount Washington by car visit the hut and the area around it. The trip down is 1.5 miles each way, with 1,300 feet of elevation gain on the way back up (0:45 down; 1:25 up). For those not used to serious hiking the trip back up may be more challenging than anticipated.

Getting to Lakes Hut and Back
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Up by Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail 3.1 2,500 2:50
Up by Tuckerman's Ravine Trail 4.6 3,450 4:00
Up by Crawfords Path 7.0 3,450 5:15
Addition for Mt. Eisenhower or Mt. Monroe 0.1 350 0:15
Addition for Mt. Pierce 0.2 100 0:10
Down (to hut) from summit 1.5 0 0:45
Down by Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail 3.1 0 1:35
Down by Jewell Trail (over Mt. Washington summit) 6.6 1,200 3:55
Down by Tuckerman's Ravine Trail 4.6 100 2:20
Down by Crawford Path 7.0 350 3:40
Up (from hut) to summit 1.5 1,300 1:25

Hikes From Lakes Of The Clouds Hut

Mount Monroe

This is a short trip (rt: 0.8 miles; 350 feet; 0:35) that is often done after arriving at the hut and settling down, or after dinner.

Mount Washington

The easiest way of climbing Mount Washington is as a two day trip, with a night spent at the Lakes Hut. The Crawford Path to the summit (rt: 3.0 miles; 1,300 feet; 2:10) is a good trail, with reasonable footing and grades. It is, of course, totally exposed to the elements, but when the weather is good the views are exceptional.

Hikes From Lakes Hut
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Mt. Monroe 0.8 350 0:35
Mt. Washington 3.0 1,300 2:10

Routes to Neighboring Huts

Routes to Mizpah Hut

Follow the Crawford Path from Lakes Hut to the Webster Cliff Trail, then follow that trail to Mizpah Hut (ow: 4.8 miles; 350 feet; 2:35). This bypasses the summits of Mount Eisenhower and Mount Monroe, each of them add about 0.1 miles and 350 feet (about 0:15 hiking time).

From Lakes Hut to the section that bypasses Mt. Eisenhower the trail is completely exposed; from there to the summit of mt. Pierce there are patches of scrub, while the final section is in the trees. In good weather the views are spectacular, but in bad weather it can be dangerous.

Routes to Madison Spring Hut

The easiest route to Madison Spring Hut is to follow the Crawford Path about two thirds of the way up the cone of Mount Washington, then bypass the summit by taking the Westside Trail to its junction with the Gulfside Trail. Then follow the Gulfside Trail to its end at Madison Hut (ow: 6.8 miles; 1,650 feet; 4:15).

This bypasses all the summits. Going over Mount Washington adds 0.7 miles and 650 feet (0:40). The loops over Mts. Clay and Jefferson add little distance and about 300 feet each (0:10), while going up Mt. Adams by Lowes Path and descending by the Airline Trail adds 0.4 miles and 300 feet (0:20). Going over all the summits adds 1.1 miles and 1,550 feet (1:20), almost doubling the total elevation gain.

From Lakes Of The Clouds Hut to Neighboring Huts
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
To Mizpah Hut by Crawford Path 4.8 350 2:35
Addition for Mt. Eisenhower or Mt. Monroe 0.1 350 0:15
To Madison Hut, no summits 6.8 1,650 4:15
Addition for Mt. Washington 0.7 650 0:40
Addition for Mt. Clay or Mt. Jefferson 0 300 0:10
Addition for Mt. Adams 0.4 300 0:20
To Madison Hut, all summits 7.9 3,200 5:35