The Flagstaff Hut, shown above, is expected to be one of a few huts open for business this winter after closing last year because of the pandemic. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The Maine Huts and Trails system will open this winter after being closed last year because of the pandemic. With a new director of development and director of operations changes are planned for the 14-year-old mountain hut system.

In the past, overnight stays typically were offered by the bunk, but now guests will be able to rent full bunk rooms – with the hope of attracting family groups. In addition, guests will be able to choose different types of service at different times of the week in order to provide different pricing alternatives throughout the winter. In the past, full-service lodging that included meals was offered at peak times, while self-service stays where guests used the kitchen to cook their meals were offered during shoulder seasons, or off-peak times.

Reservations will open in October and likely include the Flagstaff Hut beside Flagstaff Lake, the Stratton Brook Hut, which is a short hike from Sugarloaf, and Poplar Hut, a short distance from the Carrabassett Valley town office. Grand Falls Hut in West Forks is not expected to open.

Before the hut system closed last winter because of the pandemic, it had closed two of its overnight lodges in the summer and fall of 2019 due to a labor shortage. In the winter of 2019-20, it opened only on a self-service basis.

Maine Huts and Trails has served more than 80,000 guests who have stayed in the huts or to hike, ski or mountain bike the 80-mile trail system that extends from the West Forks in Somerset County to Carrabassett Valley in Franklin County. Kris Dorer, the new director of development, and Kevin Mitchell, the new director of operations, have joined the nonprofit’s staff.

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