Wanna get away? Backcountry enthusiasts will soon have more trailside accommodations in Vermont to choose from. One new heated cabin just opened for occupancy this week, while another will become available in December and construction of a third is set to begin next spring.
It’s part of an effort by the Vermont Huts Association to expand the state's trailside network.
RJ Thompson, the nonprofit's executive director, says their first custom cabin — which sleeps 10 and is accessible to people with disabilities — will be available to guests beginning Dec. 1.
The 660-square-foot wooden structure was designed and built by Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield. Last week, trucks moved the cabin to the Chittenden Brook Campground, which is on national forest land between Goshen and Rochester.
While the cabin will be accessible by car during the summer, Thompson says the road to the campsite is closed in the winter.
“What’s cool about that," Thompson said, "is you’ll be able to skin or snowshoe or kind of cross-country ski up the 2.3-mile road to the hut. And, you know, there’ll be no one up there."
"You'll have this really ideal scenario," Thompson continued, "where you can be in the remote backcountry setting, skin up a little bit, spend your day and then descend back Chittenden Brook Trail to a nice hut where you can prepare your meals on the cooktop stove.”
The hut is close to the Long Trail, Brandon Gap and a popular new network of backcountry ski trails developed by RASTA — the Rochester/Randolph Area Sports Trail Alliance — and the Green Mountain National Forest.
“Yeah, it’s going to be really fun,” laughed Thompson. “I can’t wait to stay there, although I haven’t booked a reservation yet, and now all the weekends [for December] are full.”
During the winter season, the new Chittenden Brook cabin will cost $110 per night midweek and $155 per night on weekends and holidays. Rates will be slightly higher during the summer.
Another new all-season cabin, The Nulhegan Confluence Hut, is in the Northeast Kingdom. It's ready for occupancy now and began accepting reservations this week. It sleeps six and is located along the Nulhegan River.
Steve Libby, executive director of the Vermont River Conservancy, which owns and operates the cabin, says it’s ideal for hikers, paddlers, birders and others who want to enjoy a rustic stay near the town of Bloomfield.
“We’re a land trust. We’re not in the business of managing reservations,” admits Libby. “We just don’t have the staff infrastructure for that. So being able to partner up with the Vermont Huts Association gives us not only the mechanics of the reservation, and kind of keeping track of who’s there and who’s interested in staying, but also supporting what we see as this really growing system of backcountry huts that the Huts Association is nurturing.”
Thompson announced this week that plans are also underway to rebuild a cabin overlooking the Chittenden Reservoir. The Vermont Huts Association had hoped to use an existing log home on the site as part of its network, but a suspicious fire destroyed the property last January.
Thompson says they’ve worked with the Trust for Public Land and Green Mountain National Forest to develop plans for a smaller cabin on the site that will sleep 15, include a caretaker, and be set back out of view from the reservoir below. Construction on that project is set to begin next spring.