Lake Tahoe Backcountry Huts 

Tahoe Donner Huts MapClair Tappaan Lodge operates four backcountry huts in the Lake Tahoe area for year-round recreational use and as emergency shelters. Each hut provides rustic accommodations for about 15 people including a sleeping loft, wood stove, and outhouse. These huts give ambitious skiers, snowshoers, and hikers a chance to explore the mountains without needing to build an igloo or pitch a tent. Each hut can be reached in one day or less from the nearest road by an average group with good weather. In bad weather, some may not be accessible at all. Navigation is the responsibility of the user. All huts may be difficult to locate in heavy snow years.

Huts are supplied with cut, typically un-split, firewood each fall. Sledgehammers and wedges are typically available for splitting. Heavy visitor use may deplete firewood stores by spring. Each hut has at least one wood stove, good for warming huts and melting snow, but notoriously inefficient for cooking, especially with large parties (portable backpacking stoves are recommended).

Winter upkeep is the responsibility of the users; please leave the huts cleaner and in better condition than when you arrived.

Reservations

Nightly rates for huts are $20 per person. To prevent overcrowding, the huts are operated on a reservation basis. Guests must bring their own food, sleeping bags and pads, utensils, flashlights, personal equipment, etc. The huts may not be used for commercial purposes without permission of the Sierra Club. Call (530) 426-3632 or email info@clairtappaanlodge.com for reservations.

Hut reservations for winter months (December-April) are processed through a weighted lottery system with priority given to volunteer work party participants. Each year on November 1st, a lottery is held to assign reservation dates for hut trips occurring that winter. Lottery applications are accepted between June and October via U.S. mail, and must have payment and 3 date choices included.  Lottery results are emailed to applicants by mid-November. Spaces not allocated during the lottery will be made available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Hut-to-Hut Trips

Benson Hut and Bradley Hut are often linked together for a three-day, two-night trip between Donner Pass and Highway 89 near Squaw Valley. Bradley Hut and Ludlow Hut can be linked together but a snow camp midway should be expected. Linking Ludlow Hut with Echo Summit would take another two snow camps (e.g., Camper Flat and Lake Aloha). Note: These estimates are for an experienced, well-equipped group breaking trail in good weather.

Volunteer Work Parties

2015 Work Parties

Sept 12-13 Benson; contact Jim Gannon: jgannon99@sbcglobal.net
Sept 19-20 Bradley; contact Hal Tompkins: hal_tompkins@yahoo.com
Sept 19-20 Peter Grubb; contact Bill Erlach: bill@erlach.com

Oct 3-4 Peter Grubb; contact Dick Simpson: hut.coord@yahoo.com
Oct 10-11 Ludlow; contact Jason McLachlan: propwash@pacbell.net
Oct 17-18 contingency; contact Dick Simpson: hut.coord@yahoo.com

Firewood is stocked and hut maintenance is performed by volunteer work parties each summer and fall. Hut users are encouraged to join established work parties. In exchange for their efforts, work party participants are given priority over the general public when making reservations for the upcoming winter.

The most important maintenance tasks of hut work parties include cutting, transporting, and stacking firewood so that the wood stoves provide warmth during winter months. There is also general cleaning, minor repair work such as replacing cracked window panes and checking roof screws, and applying a coat of preservative stain to exterior wood surfaces.

Clair Tappaan Lodge provides tools and supplies, including food. All you need do is bring gear for a simple overnight backpacking trip, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, and a healthy attitude towards manual labor.

Unless there are special circumstances, work parties meet Saturday morning after breakfast at Clair Tappaan Lodge. (See the work party schedule.) You can stay overnight Friday and get your breakfast at no charge. Depending on road conditions, it is usually possible to drive to Bradley and Ludlow Huts. Peter Grubb Hut requires a one- to three-mile backpack, and Benson requires a three- to six-mile backpack.

Work party-001The group usually works until mid-afternoon Saturday and then breaks for a little recreation. Ludlow is within sight of Richardson Lake, Peter Grubb is within a 45 minute hike of Sand Ridge Lakes, and all are within easy access of great views. Work resumes after breakfast on Sunday and continues until early afternoon. The work party breaks up in time for return to Clair Tappaan Lodge and/or home at a reasonable hour.

Work party leaders will help set up car pools, but participants must make and confirm the actual arrangements. As with all Sierra Club outings, volunteers must sign an Acknowledgement of Risk and Liability Waiver. In the case of minors, the form must be signed by a parent/guardian.

For more information on reservations, availability, and similar matters, contact Clair Tappaan Lodge at info@clairtappaanlodge.com or (530) 426-3632. For general hut issues, contact the Hut Committee Chair, Dick Simpson, at 3326 Kipling St, Palo Alto, CA 94306, (650) 494-9272, or hut.coord@yahoo.com.