Sunday, July 2, 2023

A Trip to Greenleaf Hut with Appalachian Mountain Club

I was lucky enough to take part in a guided hut trip with the Appalachian Mountain Club!  This is not my first trip to the high huts.  I worked for AMC from 2007-2010 and regularly took groups to the area.  This felt like a coming home as well as a reawakening to the many possibilities of the mountains and how much the AMC contributes to my hiking happiness.  

Text:  A trip to Greenleaf Hut with Appalachian Mountain Club by Freelance Adventurer
Check out the three day guided trip to Greenleaf Hut
 with Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) in the White Mountains.

If you'd like to do a guided trip, check out both the free (day hikes) and pay (overnight) trips offered by the club here.

Don't need a guide?  Book your own stay at Greenleaf Hut or another AMC facility.

Before you book, become a member.  Members get 20% off their stay as well as other discounts and benefits!

Read on to learn how to have a memorable 
adventure with AMC at Greenleaf Hut in 
the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Day 1:  The AMC Highland Center at Crawford Notch.

I arrived at AMC Highland Center in the heart of the White Mountains of New Hampshire around 5:30 pm.  Just in time for happy hour in the living room!  It was a rainy night, but the field of lupine in front of the lodge made for a welcome site.  I was given a name tag, checked into my private room/private bath, and mingled and met the rest of the group at happy hour.  

Highland Center at Crawford Notch
Enjoyed my first night at the Highland Center in Crawford Notch.

At 6 pm, we moved to the dining room where we enjoyed a delicious lodge dinner - served buffet style.  After dinner, we convened in one of the classrooms.  Our guides facilitated introductions, went over the hiking plan, and what we needed to pack.  Next, we were shown to the basement LL Bean gear room.  This is available to guests and participants.  It has everything from high quality hiking boots, fleeces, sleeping bags, backpacks, and more.  Many of the participants borrowed packs, boots, and rain gear.  Around 8:30 pm, we departed to our personal rooms to pack, shower, and rest up for the next day's hike.

All your gear needs will be met in the LL Bean room
available free for guests at AMC facilities.

Day 2: Hiking to Greenleaf Hut

I woke up and packed, then headed downstairs for a hearty breakfast from the lodge cafeteria. We got a weather update and set out.  Our trailhead was a short drive away.  We were offered to either be transported by van or travel alone.  I took my car to cut down on the next day's drive.

We arrived at the Old Bridle Path trailhead in Franconia Notch around 8 am.  Our lead naturalist, Nancy, gave a rundown on some of the flora and fauna we might see on the trail and we took off at a moderate pace. 

Trailhead - 2.9 miles to our destination.

 A ways up the trail, we reached a section that was being worked on by the Appalachian Mountain Club's professional trail crew.  I was amazed to see their beautiful work and learned about the "Restoring the Ridge" project - a collaboration between the federal government and Appalachian Mountain club - to preserve this iconic loop hike for generations to come.  We also learned that our AMC membership helps this project!  

two female trail crew members build steps by hand on the Old Bridle path
AMC professional trail crew makes steps
that will last generations and handle thousands
of yearly visitors and harsh weather.

This project combines federal dollars with
AMC funds from your membership.

Soon, we popped out onto a ledge.  While the Franconia ridge above was still in the clouds, we were able to see views of the valley below.  While taking a restful snack break, our naturalist brought our attention to various bird calls.

hiking group takes break on ledge and view valley below
We take a break along Old Bridle Path.

The trail got steeper as we approached the hut.  When we got to Greenleaf hut, it was hugged by a cloud.  Now, around 1 pm, we were ready for our trail lunch (given/packed by the Highland Center kitchen).  After choosing a bunk in the hut, we sat on the porch and enjoyed our lunch.  

two girls climb up to the top (3rd bed) bunk in AMC hut
Bunks come with a pillow and three wool blankets. 
Bring sheets or sleeping sack/bag.

We still had plenty of time until dinner, so even though the visibility wasn't great, we decided to summit Mt Lafayette.  Hoping the clouds would clear by the time we got up there, we continued up into the alpine zone.  Nancy pointed out new plants off the trail.  In about an hour, we reached the ridgeline.  Unfortunately, there was no view due to clouds and mist, but that's ok.  We descended off Lafayette, back to the hut.  

We were treated to an informative talk about the climate science done by AMC scientists as well as their citizen science programs.  We also learned about the hut systems that makes it sustainable in the peaks.

approaching greenleaf hut in fog
Greenleaf Hut is run by Appalachian Mountain Club. 
In summer, it is a full service hut with bathrooms, meals, and beds.  Reserve online.

Dinner was multiple courses - served family style at long tables. You won't go hungry!  The food was both delicious and plentiful.  After dinner, guests read from the library, played games, and chatted before quiet hours at 9:30 pm.  Around sunset, the clouds cleared and we were treated to views of the magnificent Franconia Ridge!  It was a welcome site for guests and staff!

Day 3: Summit views and hiking down

The hut croo (yes, that's how they spell it), woke us up to some soft singing at 6:30 am.  We got up, dressed, and packed and then had a delicious breakfast in the dining room at 7 am.  After breakfast, the group discussed our goals.  Half of the group was ready to take Bridle Path down to return home before noon.  Some of us (me included), wanted to summit Mt Lafayette once more to get a summit view.  With multiple leaders, we were able to split the group.

morning light on tables laid out for breakfast at AMC Greenleaf hut
Morning light streams in at Greenleaf hut -
laid out for breakfast.

As our group moved up the mountain, the clouds came rolling back in.  Fortunately for us, however, we were able to get a ridge view (with clouds) from the top.  

Woman (The freelance adventurer) stands center and behind her franconia ridge on Mt Lafayette
Arguably Mt Lafayette is one of the best views in the White Mountains.

After a leisurely summit break, our small group worked our way back to the hut.  After a bathroom break, we chose to take a different trail down - the Greenleaf Trail.  Some highlights of this trail included mossy "fairy forest" and Eagle cliff.  

Our guides brought us back to our cars two exits down the road.  It was a sunny, warm summer day and couldn't have been a better end to the trip.

Cliff face and ferns along it.
Eagle Cliff along the Greenleaf Trail

Want to try this experience?

Go to AMC activities, and check out the backpacking options.


Hike yourself without a guide!  Book your hut stay!


Become a member to support the trail work, science, and recreation by Appalachian Mountain Club.

Want to see more video and photos from this trip? Check out more on my instagram account the @freelanceadventurer

Text: hut trip with AMC - 3 day guided trip with Appalachian Mountain Club
Highly recommend going on a guided trip with Appalachian Mountain Club.

You might also like these adventures:

Carter Notch Hut in Winter
Lonesome Lake - Perfect Family Hike
24 Hour Affordable Getaway in the White Mountains