10th Mountain Huts: Francie's Cabin

Built in 1994, Francie's Cabin is an excellent hut for backcountry ski trips and summer hiking and mountain biking. Francie's Cabin was named in honor of Frances Lockwood Bailey. Francie's is at an elevation of 11,264 feet, and is a 4.1 mile skin or snowshoe trip from the Burro Trailhead in Breckenridge in the winter. In the spring and summer, it's a 1.78 mile approach from the Spruce Creek Road parking area.

Francie's can sleep 20, making it a great hut to reserve for large groups. The downstairs bedroom has one single bunk and two single beds, while the upstairs has five small bedrooms, of which two have two single beds and three sleep four each in bunks.

Other amenities include a sauna, indoor compost toilets, and a large dining/living room area with a wood burning stove for heating and cooking, and propane burners for cooking in the kitchen. Plenty of firewood is usually stacked in the downstairs basement.

The view from the porch is beautiful, looking across the valley at several peaks. Uphill from Francie's are steep spring skiing runs and more moderate winter backcountry tree skiing that's good when the avy hazard is high.

The great thing about a Francie's trip is that you can approach light. Sleeping bags, personal clothing, and food are about all you need to bring in. I remember doing a spring trip where the approach pack was light enough that there was plenty of room in the pack for beer, which we kept chilled in the snowbanks for afternoon refreshment after a morning of skiing.

A stay at Francie's is $33 a night per person, a great rate for what is much like a hotel in a beautiful setting. Reservations can be made by calling

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Candace Horgan