Mt. Tahoma Trails Association: Glamping Near Mt. Rainier
Let me tell you about the most magical winter experience in Washington state- the Mt. Tahoma Trails Association hut-to-hut system. I first learned about this a couple years ago but hadn’t gotten lucky enough to get a spot until February of this year. This system is made up of huts that you hike or ski to deep in the woods. My friend Jillian had two spots she had gotten far in advance and asked if I wanted to join. I looked at my calendar and jumped on the chance to experience this “glamping” opportunity. She had reservations for the Copper Creek Hut.
There are three huts and one yurt in the system. They are divided into a north and south district. The north district has the Copper Creek Hut while the south district has the other three. Here are the hiking statistics for the different huts:
The trek to Copper Creek Hut is:
4.3 miles with 1,040′ of elevation gain from upper sno-park;
4.6 miles with 1,240′ of elevation gain from middle sno-park (least frequently used); and
5.4 miles with 1,640′ of elevation gain from lower sno-park.
High Hut and Bruni’s Snow Bowl Hut are both approximately:
3.0 miles with 1,800′ of elevation gain from upper sno-park; and
4.0 miles with 2,400′ of elevation gain from lower sno-park.
Yurt is an additional 2.0 miles past Snow Bowl Hut with no additional elevation gain.
The Washington sno-park pass is required to park at any of these trailheads (no matter if there is snow or not). This is effective Nov 1- April 30th. The pass is $20 a day or $40 for the season. Since we overnighted it, we needed to buy the season pass.
Getting a Reservation
This hut system has been around since the early 90’s and has developed quite the fan club. Weekend dates are in high demand so they have established an event to raise money for MTTA and for people to secure the wanted weekend dates. This event occurs in November and most weekend dates get taken at this time. You can log in at anytime on the website and still find many weekday options open though. When I got reservations for the yurt, I went online the week after the gala and somehow found an early December weekend still available. People can also cancel their reservations and those dates will appear online again. The yurt sleeps 6 people while some of the huts sleep up to 14. I was able to book the entire 6 spots of the yurt when I found the open weekend. Spots are $15 a person per night at all of the huts and yurt.
Copper Creek Hut
In February of this year I got to stay at the Copper Creek Hut. Once there is enough snow, you can snowshoe or ski into the huts. They keep the trails groomed and prefer snowshoers to hike to the side to keep it that way. It was a relatively easy road walk/ snowshoe in to the hut. All of the huts and yurt are open to the public from 7AM to 7PM, so there were many day hikers and skiers that stopped in to enjoy the amenities as well. The sleep situation is a large shared room comprised of bunkbeds and a few regular beds. You need to bring a sleeping bag and pillow, but that’s about it. The huts have all of the other amenities including a full kitchen even stocked with hot cocoa and tea. You collect water from the rain water bins or melt snow for water when there is enough.
There was a full house the weekend we spent at the hut. There are many trails to explore in the area with views of Mt. Rainier. If I would’ve stayed more than one night I would’ve loved to explore the area more.
The experience at the yurt was very different than the hut. Since I booked all 6 spots of the yurt, I brought friends and stayed with no strangers this time. This weekend may have been open since there wasn’t much snow yet. When we were there it snowed all day giving it a pretty, fresh dusting. We didn’t bring snowshoes since we knew there wasn’t much snow.
The yurt had just as many amenities as the hut, if not more. They all come equipped with a vault toilet, but this one was very nice! The yurt had one bunk bed and two futons. There was every kitchen utensil and appliance you could think of (except the oven was broken). I knew this and did not bring backpacking food like I did for the hut. We brought pasta and garlic bread and enough food to feed a large family. The heat kept us plenty warm as the temperature dipped into the 20’s outside. We stayed busy by coloring in the provided adult coloring books, reading and enjoying each others company.
I have loved my two experiences with the Mt. Tahoma Trails Association thus far and want to make it to the two other huts I have yet to!
To find more information on the hut system and to book your reservation check out their website at https://skimtta.org/.