Of the many huts the Appalachian Mountain Club runs, the Lakes of the Clouds Hut is one of the most visited due to its popular location and sleeping capacity. The hut sits at 5,012 feet perched high on the ridge below the summit of Mount Washington, the highest point in both New Hampshire and in the Northeast. The hut sleeps approximately 90 hikers and is open for full service during June through mid-September, with family-style breakfasts and dinners served every day. If you happen to be passing by during the day, hikers are invited to stop in for coffee, soup, or baked treats for a small fee and donation. The hut is the perfect place to see pink and white alpine flowers, sit beside the Lakes of the Clouds, or watch a colorful sunset.
The shortest and most direct route to Lakes of the Clouds Hut is the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. The trail may start out with an easy to moderate incline, but after passing the beautiful Gem Pool, it becomes very steep and rocky, and you may need to use your hands at times. Enjoy the first views of Mount Washington as you near the ridge knowing it only gets better from there. The trail meets the ridge beside Lakes of the Clouds Hut, where you can take a quick break or stop for the night before continuing up to the summit of Mount Washington. Restrooms, water, and a snack bar are available on the summit only during the summer operating season. The Gulfside Trail follows the ridge north to a junction below the summit of Mount Clay, where you’ll follow the Jewell Trail down to complete the loop.
Keep in mind that much of this hike involves rugged and rocky terrain as well as extended time above treeline to complete the loop. It is important to be aware of the weather and to be properly prepared because conditions can change rapidly and unexpectedly.