Yes, there really is a hut on the Copper Creek Hut trail and it’s open to the public!
The Mount Tahoma Trails Association, a non-profit organization, operates over fifty miles of cross country ski and snowshoe trails and a system of huts for day and overnight use near Ashford, just west of Mount Rainier National Park.
Although primarily a cross country ski trail network, snowshoers are welcome on the trails and in the huts so long as trail etiquette is followed. This generally means keeping to the edges of the groomed trails and yielding right of way to skiers. As most of the trails do double duty as logging roads in the summer, there is plenty of room for all to enjoy the gently rolling terrain come winter.
Follow the signs to Forest Road 92 which leads to "North District" snow parks and the trailhead to Copper Creek. The distance to the hut depends as there are three Sno-Parks that serve as parking areas, depending snow conditions at various altitudes. The lower the snow line, the longer the distance to the hut. Plan on a minimum of a nine mile round trip hike and note that Washington non-motorized Sno-Park Permits are required at all the parking areas.
Along the way, the trail is well-signed and moderately inclined for about a mile, until you arrive at a junction marked 'Cooper's Loop'. No signs here indicate which way the hut is, so to reach Copper Creek Hut, take the right fork. The left fork heads uphill, following a ridgeline and a series of snowshoe blazes back to the Overlook Trail and ultimately looping back to the upper Sno-Park.
On the right-hand trail heading towards the hut, gradually gain elevation until reaching another junction, about 3 miles from the upper parking area. Here you can either take the Rainier View Trail, or the Valley View Trail to reach the hut; the trees are grown up enough that neither route affords a view of the mountain, but the Rainier View Trail is more direct. Take it, and after another mile, arrive at a final junction, where the hut is only half a mile away. The trail descend from here, then traverses around a knob and ascends steeply for just a few hundred feet, ending directly outside Copper Creek Hut.
During the day, the heated hut, with it’s well appointed kitchen and outdoor restroom is open to the public and frequently staffed with volunteer ski patrollers on weekends. Overnight stays at the huts can be arranged with reservations and a nominal charge for a permit. Learn more about overnighting at the huts.
Copper Creek and the North District are only open in the winter season, typically from November 15th through April 15th.