Dog Friendly Backcountry Hut Adventure: Scottish Lakes High Camp

Cabins LodgeI am always on the search for dog-friendly adventure destinations in Washington State. Doggy Daddy and I hardly go anywhere without Chester and Gretel because, well, they are part of the family and an adventure isn’t the same without them. A few months ago I found a wonderful gem – Scottish Lakes High Camp.

The Scottish Lakes High Camp is a small group of rustic cabins nestled against a high-mountain ridge in the Central Cascades. Perched at 5,000 feet, on the edge of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, it is surrounded by 35 miles of nordic trails. Well-behaved dogs are welcome at High Camp on winter weekends before December 15 and after March 31.

The retreat is a great place to unplug (well, unless you got cell phone data like me…but I tried) and enjoy mountain activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and telemark skiing (or hiking and fishing in the summer).

This is one of the only (if not THE only) high hut retreats in Washington where you and your gear can get a ride to the front door of your cabin. That meant that, while we couldn’t pack the kitchen sink, we could pack plenty of warm clothes, food and beer. That also meant that Chester and Gretel got to ride snowmobiles for the first time! It was my first time on a snowmobile too.

I didn’t know how Chester and Gretel were going to react. Since I was gripping the seat handle tightly with one hand, I only had one arm free  to hold Gretel. It could see that it was going to be a bit of a problem if she was wiggly and trying to get off. To my pleasant surprise, she just sat there calmly, wrapped in her blanket, with the wind blowing in her face. Besides my arm feeling like it was going to fall off after bouncing along for 4 miles, the experience was a breeze.

We wondered how people with big dogs got up there if they hitched a ride but we saw pictures of people holding their big dog in a bear hug between themselves and the snowmobile driver. Apparently they had no problem staying on without having a death grip on the seat handle like I did. Ha, ha.

I was riding on the snowmobile towing the cart full of gear. The hitch pin fell out and we dropped the sled but a few minutes of MacGyvering by our hosts and we were on our way again. The adventure had already begun.

Don't Worry, This is Not Where Chester Rode. He Was Just Surveying the Load While We Stopped.
Don’t Worry, This is Not Where Chester Rode. He Was Just Surveying the Load While We Stopped.

We were the very first camp visitors of the season and, besides the camp host, we had the whole place to ourselves. We arrived in the afternoon on the first day so we alternated between warming ourselves by the fire and playing in the snow.

Gretel in the Snow

That night, Doggy Daddy and I took advantage of having the wood-fired hot tub all to ourselves and soaked under the starts into the night.

It rained lightly the whole time we were there but that didn’t ruin our fun. The second day we snowshoed a couple of miles to a lookout. We ran into a small group of folks that had a friendly dog with them and had a great little chat – the kind you have with random strangers on the trail that love adventure like you do.

Outlook View - Above Scottish Lakes High Camp

In the evening, we enjoyed a Thanksgiving potluck feast with about 16 strangers, and 5 other pups, in the main lodge. There was some wine and some Scottish rugby songs sung. It felt like we were celebrating the day with travelers at some refuge in the mountains of Europe. It was pretty surreal  – Definitely a Thanksgiving to remember.

The next day we slept in, packed, straightened up the cabin, rode back down the mountain and drove the two hours back to Seattle.

The whole trip was relaxing. I felt like it forced us to appreciate the simple things and spend some focused time together. I definitely plan to save my pennies so we can stay there again.

More About Scottish Lakes High Camp

The Trillium Cabin - Our Home Away From Home For a Few Days
The Trillium Cabin – Our Home Away From Home For a Few Days

The nine cabins are rustic – built primarily out of plywood and recycled building materials – but a lot of comforts are provided.

Each cabin has a wood stove, propane cooking burners, propane lanterns and oil lamps, pans, dishes, and utensils. The cabins are outfitted with bunks, mattresses, pillows, containers of 100% pure mountain spring water, and bedding for a small fee (free in couples cabins).

The camp provides adult and kids snowshoes on loan (although they are limited and well used so you might want to bring your own if you have them), unlimited kindling and firewood, a wood-fired cedar sauna, an outdoor, wood-fired redwood hot tub, a heated backcountry shower, upscale outhouses, and a warm and cozy day loge where you can enjoy fireside drinks, games, and chats with new friends.

Photo Courtesy of Scottish Lakes High Camp
Photo Courtesy of Scottish Lakes High Camp

The cabins vary in size and, since the capacity varies 2 – 10 people, you can choose the perfect size to fit your private party. Prices start at $60 per night per person. Gear and skier round trip transportation up the mountain is $70 per person (less if you hike or ski part or all of the trip). There is no pet fee for dogs to stay in the cabin but round-trip transportation for each dog is $10 – $20 depending on the season and how far up the mountain the dog rides.

For more information visit

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


  1. Oh my wow!!! That looks like a beautiful and fun place to get away. I think I’ll have to convince Mom and Dad to book a vacay out to Washington State! 😉 Looks like you had a blast- what an adventure. 🙂

    1. There are so many great places out here. You should definitely come. There are a couple of yurts near the ocean in southern Washington that are dog friendly too. We haven’t stayed there yet but I would love to.

  2. Wow! That’s awesome! I love that kind of adventure with the feeling you’re in Europe makes it very special with the rustic comforts of backwoods cabin.

    1. My hubby and I hiked in Europe for our honeymoon a couple of years ago and I loved staying in the refuges. We weren’t able to bring the dogs with us and missed them so. It was kind of neat to experience a piece of that with the dogs along.

  3. Looks and sounds terrific! I want to look for a similar place but closet for Justus and me for our next dog friendly vacay.

  4. My brother in law just sent me your blog and said he thinks “you are someone that I need to be friends with!” I am a dog fanatic and am trying to figure out how to leave the comfort of my comfy corporate job and venture in to a dog-oriented business in Anacortes. We’ve been going to Scottish Lakes High Camp now for almost 20 years. Sometimes we bring our Bernese Mountain Dogs. It is a little piece of heaven isn’t it?

    1. Hi Marcy. Welcome to my blog. I understand exactly where you are at. Adopting Gretel and starting this blog changed my life. I wanted to make dogs and pets the center of what I do so I quit my job and went back to school.

      I live in North Seattle and would totally be up for a chat sometime. You can email me at contact(at)JessicaRhae(dot)com if you are interested.

  5. That looks like a lot of fun. I wonder how two German shepherds would do on those snowmobiles.

    We had a lot of fun at the Chevy Chase Beach Cabins in Port Townsend last summer. Not as much hiking, but very scenic, private beach, and so dog friendly!

    1. I saw a photo of a guy with a big husky on his lap riding the snowmobile. It looked fine but I don’t know how hard it was. I do know it made my arm tired holding on to my 10 lb dog 🙂

      Port Townsend is great. I have family there and lived there myself for a few years. Glad you had a good time there.

  6. looks like a fun adventure. I’m always on the lookout for pet friendly travel destinations too as I hate to leave Ammo at home. This year I want to try to travel more with him – if we can find the time to break free from our work duties for once.

  7. Hi!! It’s so nice to meet you!! 😀 We were in Seattle on Christmas!! 😀 Your blog is awesome!! I also call my husband the “Doggy Daddy” and we take our girls everywhere, too! I can’t wait to get to know you better!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Lauren. I hope you liked Seattle while you were here. Doggy Daddy, or “S”, and I hardly go anywhere without Chester and Gretel. Sometimes I think he is more attached to taking them with us than I am 🙂

    1. I know. Now my hubby wants to get one for the back yard. He has some welding friends so they could make the fire box for it…so all we need is a huge, cedar barrel 🙂 Oh, and living someplace where it snows would be cool too. Nothing better than sitting in the hot tub while it is snowing.

  8. What a great winter adventure. I have never heard of Scottish Lakes High Camp and will definitely add it to my list of dog-friendly winter places to go! Thanks for the tip.

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