Lake Tahoe Backcountry Huts
Clair Tappaan Lodge operates four backcountry huts in the Lake Tahoe area for year-round recreational use. Each hut provides rustic accommodations for 12-15 people (depending on the hut) and includes 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 provided 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).
Routine upkeep is the responsibility of the users; please leave the huts cleaner and in better condition than when you arrived.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations.
Hut reservations for the Winter months (December-April) are processed initially through a priority system beginning November 1st. Priority is given to volunteer work party participants. Applications for the initial allocation, for both volunteers and the general public, are accepted by U.S. Mail (only). Mail to: Clair Tappaan Lodge at P. O. Box 36, Norden, CA, 95724. The application must include full payment and alternate dates (in case the first choice is unavailable). Requests for reservations should be accompanied by a $25/person/night deposit; please add 10% to cover county transient occupancy tax (ToT). The initial round of winter reservations is based on written requests. These will be issued after the last work party has been completed (see above), typically in early November.
For our winter months (December – April), applications must be received by Clair Tappaan Lodge prior to November 1, 2019 in order to be included within the initial allocation. Please use this form: Backcountry Hut Application Form.
Results from the initial allocation will be communicated to applicants within the first week of November. Spaces not allocated will be available on a first-come, first-served basis by phone (once the initial round has been completed).
Cancellation Policy: Hut reservations are charged in full at the time of booking. Refunds are available if the cancellation is received more than 30 days prior to arrival date.
Benson Hut and Bradley Hut are sometimes linked 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.
2020 Backcountry Hut Work Party Schedule:
If you’re interested in joining a Work Party for our Backcountry Huts, check back as the winter season nears an end. When this summers schedule is posted, please contact the leader to sign up. The leader will provide specific instructions for your weekend. Work party participants receive priority when reservations for next winter are first allocated (early November).
Dates for early season (June-July) work parties may be adjusted depending on how quickly snow melts. On those work parties we are particularly looking for people with chain saw experience who can cut firewood before fire restrictions are put in place by USFS. Other work will be conducted, but the priority will be on finding and cutting wood which can be carried to the hut during September-October work parties.
Updates to the schedule will be posted here; but there will probably be updates in late summer to the Backcountry Huts e-mail list. If you would like to join the email list, please contact Dick Simpson directly at email@example.com. Note that spaces on the work party rosters are claimed quickly, so waiting until August or September to sign up may leave you with fewer choices.
Note: Our Work Parties were a great success this year. A big thank you goes out to our incredible Hut Coordinator, Dick Simpson, to all our fabulous Hut Leaders: Dick Simpson, Jim Gannon, Hal Tompkins, Jason McLachlan, and Bill Erlach, and to all of the fantastic hut participants! Wow! What a great crew!
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 are 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.
The 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.
Photos of our July 7 & 8, 2018, Peter Grubb Work Party (compliments of our Hut Coordinator, Dick Simpson). A full description of this Work Party has been posted on Clair Tappaan Lodge’s Facebook page.
Above (right): Sand Ridge Lakes photo …… compliments of Shad Eddleman