Image: The Appalachian Trail
Robert F. Bukaty  /  AP file
Enjoy a long weekend of guided hikes along the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire's White Mountains, with overnight stays at rustic huts.
updated 8/5/2008 9:14:02 AM ET 2008-08-05T13:14:02

The Real Deal: Three nights' accommodations, most meals, guided hikes, and transportation, from $415 per person—including taxes.

When: Sept. 4-7, 18-21, 26-29, Oct. 16-19, 2008.

The fine print: The starting rate reflects a discount for REI members; add $45 per person for nonmembers. We recommend becoming a member as it only costs $20 and is good for life. Three breakfasts, three lunches, three dinners, taxes, transportation, gratuities, guided hikes, and the services of professional guides are included. Prices are per person; there are no additional fees for single travelers. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: REI Adventures, 800/622-2236, rei.com.

Why it's a deal: The $415 rate breaks down to about $138 per person per night and covers accommodations, all meals (except for lunch on the final day), guided hiking excursions, transportation to and from trailheads, gratuities for the hut crews, and taxes. You'll be accompanied by knowledgeable professional guides who'll help you make the most of your hiking experience while ensuring you don't get lost in the wilderness of the White Mountains as you hike from hut to hut. Plus, the member discount offers savings of $45 per person.

Trip details: The Appalachian Trail Hut to Hut Hiking package includes three nights' accommodations divided between an ecofriendly lodge and two rustic huts along the hiking trail. For those who will be flying, the closest airport is in Manchester, N.H. Because the airport is about 115 miles from the meeting point and transfers are not included, your best bet is to rent a car. A quick Internet search showed that car rentals average about $25 per day.

You'll meet the tour leader and the rest of the group at the Joe Dodge Lodge in Pinkham Notch or the AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch, depending on your departure date. The lodges are simple but comfortable, featuring shared bedrooms and bathrooms with hot showers (towels will be provided).

Leaving the meeting point, you'll begin your hike along the Appalachian Trail, making two overnight stops at rustic huts along the way. You'll stay at two of the following huts, depending on your departure dates: Lakes of the Clouds Hut, Mitzpah Spring Hut, Zealand Falls Hut, Galehead Hut, Lonesome Lake Hut, or reenleaf Hut.

Once you arrive at the first hut, you'll meet the crew, who will give you an overview of the history of the White Mountains. Both hut stays include hot breakfasts, bagged lunches to hold you over as you explore the surrounding vistas, and family-style dinners back at the huts.

On day four, you'll have breakfast and then hike back to your meeting point, where you'll arrive at about 2 p.m. If you'd like to extend your stay, you can add on extra nights at the Highland Center at the AMC member discount rate of $60-$160 per person per night.

Before you go, visit New Hampshire's official tourism Web site and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Getting there: Since the package doesn't cover airfare, here's an idea of what you'd pay for a round-trip flight to Manchester, N.H., departing on Sept. 4 and returning on Sept. 7, 2008: $272 from Miami (US Airways), $299 from Chicago (US Airways), $316 from Houston (Continental), $339 from New York City (Continental), $361 from Seattle (United), and $368 from L.A. (United). Prices are based on a recent search on Kayak[Appleton, Katherine].

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

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