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Photograph by Seth K. Hughes

High-Country Hut Trips: High Lonesome Hut

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Location:
Arapaho National Forest
Hut system:
Privately owned
Nearest town:
Tabernash

It’s difficult to miss the peach-colored stucco peeking through the spruce forest as you arrive at High Lonesome Hut. The bright hue is a welcome beacon that signals the terminus of your 2.4-mile hike up the gentle Strawberry Creek Trail. As its name suggests, the multilevel cabin feels both lofty (which it is, at 9,300 feet) and isolated (though it’s just six miles from U.S. 40). It may be closer to civilization than many of Colorado’s other remote refuges, but the 23-year-old Grand County dwelling delivers a delightful backcountry experience in both the winter and summer.

Positioned at the edge of a wildflower-filled meadow, High Lonesome should be on a first-time hut-tripper’s short list. The relatively easy, one-hour hike means your back won’t complain from hours of toting supplies; your heart rate won’t spike trying to reach your destination before nightfall; and, unless you completely ignore the cute wooden signs pointing to the hut, your brain won’t panic about the possibility of getting lost.

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Instead, when you get there, you can toss your things in one of the three bunk rooms, crack open a beer you won’t regret having schlepped in, and enjoy the fruits of your (minimal) labor from one of the tree stumps encircling the outdoor fire pit. Even in the summer, the evenings can be cool; you’ll find firewood aplenty in the hut’s basement. You’ll also find a wood stove, a grill (bring your own charcoal), pots and pans, hot and cold running water, a bathroom with a shower and a flush toilet, and solar-generated electricity. You simply need to bring food, sleeping bags, and a sense of adventure, the last of which you’ll have to rely on to extricate yourself from this lovely backcountry shelter. If you manage to pull yourself away from the cabin’s homey confines, a six-mile (round trip) moderate dayhike to serene, tree-lined Strawberry Lake will make you glad you did.

Photograph by Seth K. Hughes

If You Go

Accommodations: The hut sleeps up to 12. If you’re not into bunking with strangers, though, you can rent the whole cabin. Three sleeper rooms have combinations of twin, queen, and bunk beds, and there’s a small kitchen and dining area, an intimate communal area with a speaker for music, and one bathroom with a toilet and shower with full plumbing. Dogs and horses are welcome.
Your Pack List: Sleeping bags, food, pillowcases
Getting There: From Denver, take I-70 west, then veer onto U.S. 40. Stay on U.S. 40 until mile marker 224 (between Fraser and Tabernash). Turn right on County Road 83, follow it for 0.4 miles, then turn left on County Road 84, which turns into FDR 129. Follow County Road 84/FDR 129 for about four miles until you reach the crest of a hill and a sign for the High Lonesome Hut. Park there and walk through the gate to the trail.
Book It: $37.50 per adult per night and $20 per child under 19 per night, or $350 per night for the entire hut; minimum stays are sometimes required.

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