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North America’s Best Hike-In Lodges

You can’t drive to these backcountry lodges. This is a feature in our book, not a drawback.

If you make the effort to get there on foot, you’ll appreciate the simple things that much more. (Courtesy of Skoki Lodge)
skoki lodge

You can’t drive to these backcountry lodges. This is a feature in our book, not a drawback.

Don’t come expecting a full-service hotel. These are rustic and remote lodges where you’ll be treated to a mattress, a hot meal, and a shower (if you’re lucky). But if you make the effort to get there on foot—crossing mountain passes and trekking deep into wilderness zones—and you’ll appreciate the simple things that much more. Plus, unlike backpacking, you don’t have to carry the kitchen sink on your way in.

Skoki Lodge, Banff National Park, Canada 

(Courtesy of Skoki Lodge)

Open from late June to early October, the historic Skoki Lodge, at 7,100 feet within Canada’s Banff National Park, feels like taking a step back in time. First owned by the Ski Club of the Canadian Rockies, the lodge opened to guests in 1931 and is accessible only via a seven-mile hike from Lake Louise. There’s no electricity or running water, but you’ll get washbasins of warm water and at night, the dining room is lit with candles and kerosene lanterns. No sleeping bags necessary: beds come with down comforters and flannel sheets. From $245. 

Sperry Chalet, Glacier National Park, Montana 

You’ll reach this historic landmark, built in 1913 within Glacier National Park, via a nearly five-mile, 3,300-vertical foot hike. Once you’re there, you’ll get a private room plus three meals a day, including a bag lunch to take with you on day hikes, which are plentiful from the lodge. The chalet is open from early July to early September. From $220. 

Len Foote Hike Inn, Chattahoochee National Forest, Georgia 

(Courtesy of Len Foote Hike Inn)

Less than five miles from Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, the Len Foote Hike Inn is located in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest. A favorite starting point for thru-hikers on the AT, the inn has basic bunkrooms that sleep 20, hot showers, and two meals a day that include a breakfast spread with eggs, grits, and apple cornbread. You won’t find room service or a concierge, but the showers do come with shampoo and fresh towels. Trail lunches are available for $8 for the hike out. From $117. 

Lake of the Clouds, Mount Washington, New Hampshire 

Part of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s stellar hut system, Lake of the Clouds hut on the flanks of Mount Washington is the AMC’s highest in elevation, at 5,012 feet.  It’s also the most popular. To get there, you’ll climb 4.6 miles and a steep gain of 2,983 feet into the White Mountains. In the morning, you can hike to Mount Washington’s 6,288-foot summit, the highest peak in the northeast, or traverse the Presidential Ridge. The place sleeps around 90 in co-ed bunkrooms (bring a headlamp—there’s no electricity in the sleeping cabins) and breakfast and dinner are included. From $109. 

Muir Trail Ranch, John Muir Wilderness, California 

Click to enlarge. (Courtesy of Muir Trail Ranch)

The Muir Trail Ranch first opened as a public guest ranch in 1940. Today, it’s a popular mid-way stop for backpackers thru-hiking the 211-mile John Muir Trail, which passes steps from the ranch. Located deep in California’s John Muir Wilderness, you’ll reach the ranch via a five-mile hike from a trailhead at a remote lake. You’ll sleep in a campaign tent or a log cabins, eat communal dinners like steaks barbecued on a wood-fired grill, and soak in 107-degree hot spring baths. From $165. 

Paradise Lodge, Rogue River, Oregon 

You can either raft or hike your way to the aptly-named Paradise Lodge, a remote wilderness lodge on the shores of Oregon’s Rogue River. Either way, guides are available to escort you there and schlep your supplies. At the lodge, 18 rooms are nestled amongst cedar cabins along the river; locally-roasted coffee arrives weekly via raft. By day, hike sections of the 38-mile Rogue River National Recreation Hiking Trail, and by night, enjoy dinners in the lodge. Beer, wine, and ice cream are for sale in the general store. From $155.

Opus Hut, Ophir, Colorado  

(Courtesy of Opus Hut)

Colorado’s San Juan Mountains offer jagged peaks and desolate wilderness. To reach the Opus Hut, located deep in the range, you’ll drive a dirt road east of Ophir Pass, between the old mining towns of Silverton and Ophir, and hike just a quarter of a mile to reach the hut. Meals—curries or enchiladas for dinner, pancakes and bacon for breakfast—are cooked fresh for guests. From the hut, you can hike mule trails out the door into neighboring alpine lakes and meadows of wildflowers. From $40. 

Filed To: Lodging / Hiking and Backpacking / Travel / North America
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.


(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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