Located between Eldora Ski Resort and Rollins Pass Road, the Arestua Hut (a.k.a. Guinn Mt. Cabin) serves up peace and quiet that makes the steep and strenuous 4.5-mile climb up the flanks of Guinn Mountain from the ski area well worth the trip. Arestua is free and available on a first-come, first-served basis, so you may end up getting cozy with fellow adventurers, especially on weekends. Though you can’t make reservations for the eight bunks, you can check out the “reservations calendar” to see if anyone else is planning to be there (http://calendar.yahoo.com/arestuahut) and add your name (as a courtesy/possible deterrent to others) by emailing the Hutmeister (firstname.lastname@example.org). Here’s how to get there.
Since the trailhead is just 40 minutes from Boulder, you can be there quickly and without battling resort traffic on I-70. From Nederland, travel 0.6 miles south on Colorado Highway 119. Turn right (west) on County Road #130 and follow the signs to Eldora Ski Area. Bear left at the turn-off for Eldora Cross Country Ski Trails, park and put on your skins or snowshoes. Leave behind the busy parking lot and jump on the Jenny Creek Trail (808) which begins left (east) of the Ho-Hum chairlift. Look for signs as you start climbing south along the trees that border the beginner’s downhill slope. Once you crest the hill, head behind the Little Hawk ski lift and follow the marked trail west through the woods.
Jenny Creek Trail
You reach the Forest Service Boundary soon and the trail begins its scenic and steep drop through the forest toward Jenny Creek.
Hit the Road
After about 1.5 miles, the trail joins with the old Jenny Creek Road (502) and begins gently curving right. Follow the old road for about .25 miles until you reach a fork.
Guinn Mountain Trail
Here, the Guinn Mountain Trail (820) forks right (north). If you’d prefer to take a longer way in, continue straight up the Jenny Creek Road. After .8 miles, there is a four-way intersection with a cutoff to the Guinn Mountain Trail. To the left (south), another trail continues to the Moffat Road and Yankee Doodle Lake which makes for a great side trip or day trip from the hut.
To head directly to the hut, begin the steep climb on the narrow tree-lined trail that heads north. Soon, the trail opens up to an off-camber slope that requires side hilling for a bit. Shortly after that, you pass the ruins of an old cabin and then climb steeply up a ravine. Eventually, you head back into an enchanted wooded area thick with trees (seriously, keep an eye out for gnomes) which breaks open to reveal a giant alpine meadow and the Arestua Hut.
Home Sweet Home
Your palace, actually a cozy hut that sleeps eight and is warmed by a wood burning stove, awaits in a small clearing south (left) of the trail. Perched at 11,000 feet, the Arestua Hut offers beautiful views of the Front Range and plains and makes the perfect weekend getaway in winter and in summer, too.
Depending on how far you want to venture, you can tour to Yankee Doodle Lake, drop into the Indian Peaks Wilderness or plan a through-trek to Winter Park and use the hut as mid-trip resting spot. Regardless, be sure to check out the fantastic summit of Guinn Mountain. After a short jaunt south through the trees, Guinn opens up to reveal a spectacular tundra landscape and expansive views in every direction.