I love camping in my tent but I’m a big wuss when it comes to cold weather. I love a good hut weekend any time of year, but especially during the Spring and Autumn shoulder seasons when it’s cold and rainy, curling up by the fire after a long day hiking outside and listening to the rain patter on the steel roof instead of praying it doesn’t seep through the tent is oh-so-comforting. Lucky for people like me, we’re super close to quite a few fantastic backcountry shelters near Vancouver.
Some are paid, some are free. Some expensive, some really cheap. Some take reservations, others not. Some require membership, but mostly not. Some are private, others public. Some allow dogs, but not all. There’s a huge variety, too much to list it all so I’ll try to give you the key information from which you can take off and explore further. Some are managed, others for emergencies only, and others just old abandoned buildings. I’m listing them all as you should know where the emergency shelters are should you need to use them.
Who runs them?
The Alpine Club of Canada and Parks Canada have quite a few throughout the country. Out-there.com is another good resource for a Canada-wide listing of lodges, huts, yurts and other shelters. BC Mountaineering Club and BC Parks has a few cabins and yurts in our province, UBC Varsity Outdoors Club has a few, Doglotion and BackCountryHuts.net list a bunch of shelters throughout the province, Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society (aka PAWS) manages the free huts along the Sunshine Coast Trail and Tetrahedron Outdoors Club the four cabins in that Coast park. Backcountry Lodges of BC lists a bunch of commercial backcountry lodges (more on the pricey side). Washington State Parks has a bunch of different shelter types in WA, and Washington Trails Association lists a bunch of old Fire Tower Lookouts that people often crash in. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch, but here below is a list of some great backcountry huts near-ish Vancouver that I’ve found.
How to use them?
Note that shared huts/cabins are for people to have a place to rest while recreating in the backcountry. Most are volunteer-run and they demand your respect as a user. Always clean up after yourself, leaving the space in better condition than when you found it, share the space with others wanting to use it, use resources like firewood and solar power sparingly, and be respectful of quiet time (11pm is a good rule-of-thumb). Backcountry adventurers play hard and need a good sleep to rest up for the next day’s adventure. I hope this goes without saying, but shared backcountry shelters are not for parties – don’t be that selfish jerk. I love a good party too, but if that’s what you’re up there to do, only use reservable shelters that you book out fully for your group.
If it’s a FCFS (first come first served) shelter, bring a tent for back-up in case it’s full, and travel with a small group to increase your chances of getting a spot. Hiking in off-season, mid-week or in bad weather will also increase your chances of getting a spot.
Fire Lookouts and emergency shelters aren’t meant to be slept in. Note they are not designed for sleeping in, so usually not insulated, lots without doors, window coverings etc. They’re mostly just a roof and some walls maybe, a shelter from rain/snow but don’t provide much warmth or security from critters.
Shelters Near Vancouver
SEA TO SKY
Elsay Lake Shelter – near North Vancouver
Magnesia Meadows Emergency Shelter – Lions Bay
Brunswick Lake Emergency Shelter – Lions Bay
Sea to Sky Parks Cabins – in Porteau Cove
Lost Lake Shelter aka Kallahne Cabin – near Porteau Cove
Watersprite Lake Hut – near Squamish
Tantalus Hut – near Squamish
Jim Haberl Hut – near Squamish
Brew Hut – near Squamish
Sphinx (aka Roland Burton) Hut – near Squamish
Mountain Lake Hut – near Squamish
Elfin Lakes Shelter – Near Squamish
Brohm Ridge Chalet & Clubhouse – near Squamish
Russet Lake Shelter – near Whistler
Journeyman Lodge – near Whistler
Wedgemount Lake Shelter – near Whistler
Spearhead Huts (coming soon) – near Whistler
Sentinel Bay Glaciology Huts – near Whistler
Tenquille Lake Cabin – near Pemberton
Wendy Thompson Hut – near Pemberton
Keith Flavelle Memorial Hut – near Pemberton
Snowspider Hut – near Pemberton
North Creek Cabin – near Pemberton
Harrison Hut – near Pemberton
Lizzie Creek Cabin – near Pemberton
McGillivray Pass Lodge – near Pemberton
Brian Waddington (aka Phelix) Hut – near Pemberton
Lillooet Lake Lodge Cabins – near Pemberton
Sunshine Coast Trail Huts – throughout Sunshine Coast
Hallowell Fire Watchtower – near Garden Bay (Sunshine Coast)
Tetrahedron Provincial Park Cabins – Sunshine Coast
– Batchelor, McNair, Edwards, and Mt. Steele cabins
EAST OF VANCOUVER
Burke Mountain Ski Chalet Cabins – Coquitlam
Golden Ears Emergency Shelter – in Maple Ridge
Dewdney Cabin – in Mission
Windy Joe Fire Lookout – Manning Park (near Hope)
Frost Creek Cabin – Manning Park (near Hope)
San Juan Ridge Cabins – Vancouver Island
Winchester Mountain Fire Lookout – near Mt. Baker
Sourdough Mountain Fire Lookout – near Mt Baker
Hidden Lake Lookout Fire Tower – near Mt Baker
Suiattle Guard Station – near Mt Vernon, WA
Heybrook Lookout – near Everett, WA
Three Fingers Lookout – near Everett, WA
Cottonwood Cabin – near Everett, WA
Evergreen Mountain Lookout Cabin – near Everett, WA
Granite Mountain Fire Lookout – near Seattle, WA
Teanaway Guard Station – near Seattle, WA
Alpine Lookout Fire Tower – near Leavenworth, WA
Red Top Lookout Fire Tower, near Leavenworth, WA
There are a ton of other huts in other accessible areas of BC like the interior, Okanagan, Rockies, etc, as well as AB and WA, but there are way too many to list them all here. A quick google search will bring up lots of options for you if you’re looking to do a longer trip out to places like those, or check out some of the other links above under the “how to use the huts” section.
Did I miss any huts close to Vancouver? Email me at info [at] hikesnearvancouver [dot] ca and I’ll add it to my list above!