At 8,350 feet, the site of Benson Hut located under Anderson Peak is a welcome reprieve for any weary back country adventurer. Whether you've spent the day skiing, snowshoeing, or enjoying a summer hike, it is a comfortable shelter in a storm or on a starry night.
The hut was built in the late 1940s by friends of the Sierra Club to honor John P. Benson Jr., a passionate skier and Sierra Club member killed in action in WWII. As a skier, Benson would be proud. The surrounding peaks provide several slopes without the lift lines or crowds, (or chair lift, of course). Benson Hut is one of four huts in the Tahoe-Donner area built and managed by the Sierra Club as alternatives to snow camping for enthusiastic back country users. The club's Clair Tappaan Lodge is located right next door.
The Sierra Club organizes work parties every June- July and September-October for the maintenance of the huts. As one of the oldest, largest, and most influential environmental organizations in the United States, their impact on the Tahoe-Donner region and environmental conservation as a whole cannot be minimized. Visiting one of the Sierra Club hut s is truly a great way to appreciate their efforts.
Though settled comfortably six miles from Squaw Valley and three miles from Mt. Lincoln, Benson Hut is known as the most challenging of the Sierra Club huts to access. With the challenge is the adventure though and the exposed ridges,strong winds, cornices to look out for, and gloriously expansive vistas make this trek back country adventuring at its finest. Be safe, be prepared, and expect a feeling of euphoria upon reaching your home for the night.
Number of Persons Shelter Will Accommodate
12, there are six fold down cots on the first level and an open space perfect for group bundles in the loft.
Access to the Benson Hut is located about 90 miles northeast of Sacramento. To get there, use Highway 80 East out of Sacramento, take exit 174 towards Soda Springs and turn right (south). Follow the road a couple of miles to the Sugar Bowl Ski Resort.
At Sugar Bowl, either take the lift or hike up the resort trails to the top of Mt. Lincoln (8,383'). From the top, follow the ridge line to the southeast for approximately 3 miles to the southeast of gorgeous Anderson Peak (8,683'). It is recommended to stay to the west of the ridge line, as the prevailing winds often form cornices over the eastern lip of the ridge. The Benson Hut is nestled on the north shoulder of Anderson Peak at treeline (approx. 8,320'). The hut has an upper and a lower room with three points of entry, each to correspond with different snow levels.
Shelter Warming Source
Wood Burning Stove
Kitchen Supplies Available (if any)
You should anticipate packing in whatever supplies you expect to use. The kitchen does have a small, somewhat eclectic supply of cooking utensils, and may have paper towel rolls available, but inventory is dependent on all those who have used the hut previously that season. Therefore it's best to plan for empty cabinets. Fire wood is available, located in a side room on the first level. However, if you're visiting late in the season prepare for some chopping! The kindling and smaller pieces tend to get used quickly though a sledgehammer and wedge should be available for splitting.
The lower room's kitchen area offers some counter space, a large dining table, and a wood burning stove. The hut does not have a sink or a drain (and definitely no running water). There are large pots available for melting snow or for cooking large amounts on the stove-top.
The lower room also has six cots which unfold from the wall, though the open space of the upper level loft is better utilized for sleeping accommodations if looking to keep the lower level less crowded.
What to Bring
The weather on the ridge can change in an instant, so come prepared. As with any back country trip, a beacon, shovel, and probe for each visitor are required in case of an avalanche or particularly hairy weather. One should also bring the standard sleeping bag/pad, extra warm clothes, enough food, a backpacking stove to get some water boiling before the fire heats up, a lighter, sunscreen, and camp shoes.
If visiting in the summer, be sure to check the snow pack and bring enough water for your stay.
Plan to pack out any trash.
Nightly Rate or Fee (if any)
$15.00 overnight fee
Due to the difficulty in trekking materials and equipment to the site whilst preserving its natural environment, it took Sierra Club volunteers over 700 days to complete the Benson Hut. The conscious mindset for such an effort as well as such a respect for the environment and its elements should be adopted by any visitor venturing into the back country.
Locally or Family Owned Business Notes
Reservations for the hut can be made through the Clair Tappaan Lodge by telephone only.
Winter visitors are encouraged to join summer/fall work parties for hut maintenance since help is always needed!
ADA Accessibility Notes
The hut is not ADA accessible.
Pet Friendly Notes
The hut is dog friendly, and please clean up and pack out any waste.