U.S. Forest Service officials are taking the next step toward assessing where to build new cabins in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska.
Last month, the Forest Service announced it received roughly $14 million to use toward fixing up old cabins and building new ones around the state. The money comes from the $1 trillion infrastructure package championed by the Biden administration.
The Forest Service has rolled out an interactive map dotted with 50 approximate prospective cabin locations and details about their construction. The proposals are based on previous feedback from the public.
Officials now want more help from the public in deciding which ones to build. There’s an emphasis on accessibility: Many of the proposed cabins are along the state’s road system instead of nestled into its remote wilderness and only reachable by boat and plane.
The Forest Service doesn’t have the money to build all the cabins proposed on its map, so now is the time to let them know which ones should be built. The agency is taking comments on the proposals through the end of October.
“We want to hear from the public about what they want to see,” James King, director of recreation, lands, and minerals for the Forest Service’s Alaska region, said in a written statement. “Knowing which locations people prefer and what kinds of cabin features we can add to ensure a more enjoyable stay will help us make this effort a success.”
People can click around the map for details on the proposals — blue dots would start construction in 2023, while red ones would begin in 2024. If people have issues with the map, they can email comments to SM.FS.OutdoorProj@usda.gov.
Here’s what the Forest Service is proposing in Southcentral Alaska.
• Porcupine Campground: This cabin would sit near the Porcupine Campground, which is in Hope. Located in a “tranquil birch forest with views” of Turnagain Arm and its tides, the cabin would be in an area that’s a gateway to hiking, biking, hunting and fishing in the National Forest.
• Berry Pass: Officials would build a cabin near the community of Girdwood, in Berry Pass along the Upper Winner Creek Trail segment of the Iditarod National Historic Trail. “The cabin would offer a backcountry setting for adventurous hikers, mountain bikers, packrafters, and anyone seeking stunning views and great berry picking opportunities,” according to the Forest Service.
• Tincan: Tincan Cabin would be located along Turnagain Pass at the popular backcountry ski area Tincan, and would be a “quick-to-access overnight opportunity in the backcountry, with recreation opportunities available year-round.”
• Granite Creek: This project would include not one, but two cabins located in the Granite Creek Campground on Turnagain Pass and be fully accessible, with multiple family-friendly recreation opportunities nearby.
• Center Creek: This cabin would sit about two miles from the Johnson Pass trailhead, popular among mountain bikers and hikers in summer and skiers and snowmachiners in winter. The cabin would be a place to begin various backcountry adventures.
• Tenderfoot: This cabin would be built on the footprint of the Tenderfoot Campground near Cooper Landing and Moose Pass. The fully accessible cabin “would be located to provide privacy from the rest of the campground but still allow easy access to the cabin door,” Forest Service officials say.
• Carter Lake: This cabin would be accessed via a 1.5-mile hike up an old jeep trail and could be accessed in winter on skis or snowmachine, as well. Popular for winter motorized recreation and ice fishing, the cabin would offer a place to spend the night in “one of the most beautiful alpine meadows” in the area.
• Rainbow Lake: This cabin would be constructed a third of a mile up an accessible trail, near Cooper Landing, and would be adjacent to Rainbow Lake, which is stocked with rainbow trout.
• Seavey: This cabin, a short hike from the Seward Highway, would offer visitors access to a hemlock forest and opportunities for hiking, including use as a stop-off point during longer through-hikes. It would honor Dan Seavey, who helped start the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
• Blackstone Bay: With the existing Coghill Lake Cabin tough to reach, this project proposes to move that cabin to Blackstone Bay in Prince William Sound, a “stunning destination” with glacier views. The new spot for the cabin would be boat and kayak-accessible from Whittier.
• Trinity Point: If built, this cabin would be located on a beach just outside of Whittier and accessible via boat from the town. Once Shotgun Cove Road is finished, it would be accessible by road as well.
• Portage Pass: This cabin would be built above Portage Lake between Whittier and Portage, offering visitors views of Portage Glacier and would be built to be accessible to a wide range of abilities.
• Freestone: This ultra-accessible cabin would be located near the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center near Portage Lake, on the shore of one of the Freestone Ponds, but would be in a place that’s still private and separate from other nearby facilities.
Many more are proposed closer to Cordova and throughout the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska.
[Below: Review the U.S. Forest Service’s map of proposed cabin projects in Alaska. You can click on the top-left menu and select “Project Proposals” to see the map. Or, on the bottom bar, where it says “Background Information; Next: Project Proposals,” click on the right arrow to navigate to project proposals.]