The Moosalamoo Association (MA) and Vermont Huts Association (VHA) would like to respond to concerns we’ve heard from fellow outdoor recreation enthusiasts regarding an overnight hut potentially being built near Silver Lake. The proposed site is on the east side of Silver Lake, which lies within the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area (MNRA), one of 40 NRAs nationwide and one of two in Vermont. NRA status is a unique federal designation that recognizes the quality of this area for recreating.
Several locations within MNRA were scouted by the MA/VHA/USFS team and factors taken into consideration for site selection included topography, access, soil conditions, and proximity to other campers and infrastructure.
The proposed site is walk-in/walk-out, leave no trace, and can be reached from the Falls of Lana and Silver Lake East parking lots within one-hour or less, thus making it accessible to families, elders, and mobility-impaired. Multi-day hikers can reach the hut within a few miles of the Long Trail and the North Country Trail.
The proposed site is equidistant between the southernmost privy and the Leicester Hollow Trail/Goshen Trail intersection that accesses the Silver Lake East parking lot. This location eliminates the need to add an additional privy, and is within walking distance to a water source for campers’ use. To respect and maintain the pristine viewshed from the lake, conceptual hut sites were not deemed viable if it appeared the hut would be seen from the lake during the summer months.
The proposed site is on the east (not lakeside) side of the Leicester Hollow Trail, approximately 315 feet from the Silver Lake shoreline. It may be possible to see some of the hut from the lake during the winter, but not when trees are leafed-out. The site is slightly uphill from an old, abandoned campsite. Proposed coordinates are: 43.8919842-73.0497878
The proposed Silver Lake Hut would be managed by VHA in partnership with MA. The hut is similar in design to one being built at Grout Pond in Stratton and part of VHA’s statewide hut network. It is 1 ½ stories, 16’ x 24’ living space plus an attached 16’ x 8’ screened porch, for a total footprint of 16’ x 32’. The hut can accommodate up to 10 guests and is outfitted with camp mattresses, low-wattage DC lights, a heat source, and a small cooktop for meal preparation. There are no electrical outlets for appliances or charging of any portable devices. The huts are utilitarian, not luxurious by any means.
VHA, MA and USFS share a common goal: Make public lands more accessible. All huts on public lands are ADA accessible. On average, one night’s rental ranges from $65-$165/night or $6.50-$16.50/per person at full occupancy, making it affordable for almost anyone, especially lower-income households, disadvantaged, and underserved communities. Because the hut is equipped with necessities, campers can experience the backcountry without making a large investment in tents, cooking utensils, camp stoves, etc. The affordability factor increases access for everyone.
Vermont’s network of huts is more popular in winter (a time of year when Silver Lake is less frequented). Year-round occupancy rate is 74% and used by people from all walks of life. Users include experienced hut-to-hut hikers or skiers. Or, it could be a family with small children who want to introduce their kids to the forest, but appreciate the security of four walls. On the opposite end of life, older folks might want to spend a quiet fall or summer night in that area but shy away because they don’t want to carry all the gear needed to go tent-camping. The hut is a good alternative for both groups. Roughly 80% of users are fellow Vermonters—not out-of-staters—though we welcome their tourism dollars, too!
Revenue generated from hut rentals goes directly back into the hut for stewardship, employing a local caretaker, and overhead to keep booking fees affordable. The caretaker may also serve as a trail steward, assisting with routine maintenance of the trail(s) used to access the hut. This is an added benefit to the Silver Lake area. Any additional revenue supports future hut maintenance and additional programming, including VHA’s FOREST Program, providing underserved communities with free, two-day retreats in the backcountry. For more information on the Forest Program’s sustainability, teamwork, and recreation impact, visit https://vermonthuts.org/forest-program.
The Moosalamoo Association also has an educational component as part of its mission in which area school students are invited into the Moosalamoo for various activities. This has largely been done through OVUHS. With a hut there, school programs could be expanded (during the school year, which is not the busy summer months) to include occasional overnight trips that could be a first for many students whose parents either don’t camp or can’t afford the tents, pads, sleeping bags, cook stove and all the rest of the gear that’s needed. Area disadvantaged students, or those from the Rutland and Burlington areas, might also be beneficiaries of subsidized stays, courtesy of the MA and VHA — again as part of our mission to offer wilderness experiences to those who might not have access.
While there has been some suggestion that this project has been conceived in secret, that is not the case. USFS District Ranger Christopher Mattrick spoke about the project at the April Goshen selectboard meeting as part of USFS’s annual review. Ranger Mattrick will make the same presentation to other abutting towns’ selectboard meetings.
The project is currently under review by the USFS. The process includes a review by a GMNF natural resources specialist, a USFS archeologist will do a specific review of the site and submit the project to the Vermont State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) for concurrence. A proposal of this nature also includes a formal 60-day public comment period. We anticipate the public comment period will begin sometime in June, with notification broadcasted through various mediums, allowing ample opportunity for public comment.
We encourage readers’ questions. Preliminary information and an FAQ are available on Moosalamoo Association’s website at URL here.
Sue Hoxie, Executive Director
RJ Thompson, Executive Director
Vermont Huts Association