Getting into the Tahoe backcountry during the winter is one of the best ways to escape the ski crowds, but if you want to overnight it — tent camping leaves a lot to be desired. If you want a little more comfort, cross-country ski or snowshoe to one of several Sierra Club backcountry huts between Donner Summit and Desolation Wilderness in Lake Tahoe where you will be welcomed with a warm fire and a rustic ambiance.
These basic huts can accommodate between 10-15 people and dogs are even allowed to share the space. Heat is provided by a wood stove and lots of armloads of wood. These huts don't have any mattresses on the basic beds, so you will need to bring your own sleeping pad and sleeping bag. You will also need to bring your own camping stove. Each of the huts have an outdoor pit toilet or outhouse. A night's stay is $20 per person and you can reserve by calling the Sierra Club's Clair Tappan Lodge at (800) 679-6675.
This hut (reputed to be haunted) is located six miles south of Donner Pass also near the Pacific Crest Trail and has a wonderful view from the slope of Anderson Peak. When the snow here is deep, there is avalanche danger, so this is only recommended for experienced skiers with avalanche training.
The Bradley Hut is located in the Pole Creek drainage between Donner Pass and Squaw Valley and the sleeping loft is accessed with stairs instead of a ladder. It's a popular summer spot for families and for winter backcountry skiing.
In Desolation Wilderness near the Pacific Crest Trail is the A-frame inspired Ludlow hut. Built in 1955, this hut is a few hundred feet above Richardson Lake and can also be accessed by snowmobile.
The 75-year-old Peter Grub Hut near Castle Peak is currently being repaired with donations made through the Sierra Club. It is scheduled to be open by the winter of 2014.