Only stayed at the shelter. It was late march with over 4' of snow still on the ground. Not sure if tent platforms still available. Shelter is in decent shape. Older but good. Super quiet. No human noise. We never saw any else. Had to blaze our own trail on Ethan pond trail. New snow over a week old and no tracks
Really special spot. Beautiful sunset over the pond. Pond can be pretty buggy with black flies, particularly in June, but that's to be expected. 3 mile hike in from Ripley Falls parking lot, a nice spur trail to a water fall to explore on the hike up or down. Can get busy in the peak season (july), but the caretaker always finds room for all visitors! The shelter is right at the front of the site and can fit maybe 12… maybe more if it had to. Site also has some good hammock spots, but ask caretaker where to string up.
Great place to set up camp either as a thru hiker or if you're passing through for a weekend in the Whites. About 3mi from the 302, and from there you're 5mi from the AMC Highland Center.
Beautiful views of Ethan pond. Close to the Willey Range (Mt Tom, Mt Field, Mt Willey, Mt Avalon).
The Ethan Pond Shelter campsite is managed by the Appalachian Mountain Club as well as the US Forest Service. There are several tent platforms (2 larger ones for groups and a few smaller ones for smaller parties) as well as the shelter itself. There is a kitchen area with a bear box and a privy (not maintained in the off season so a little out of control in early May) tended to by a seasonal AMC caretaker.
There was still plenty of snow there on my last visit which softens the extent of the impact. However, when the snow melts be prepared for a highly visited and often crowded site in the heart of the summer season. The shelter is not very large and can probably sleep 6 or 7 adults snuggly, I always opt for the tent platforms personally just to have a little more space and avoid the congregation of hikers at the shelter.
The view here is incredible, however. Watch the sun set over Ethan Pond and enjoy the protection of the boreal forest as you make your way from the trailhead toward the alpine zone. Please remember that fires are NOT allowed (despite the remaining contradictory evidence). This is a first come, first serve area but be sure to check in with the AMC caretaker when you arrive (if camping during the peak season). There's fresh water available just below the shelter, on the way in to the shelter. You do need to treat your water here.