Winter adventure is made for Alaska. Up there, getting outside and embracing the frozen darkness is required. And there’s no better way to make it happen than to reserve one of the dozens of public use cabins sprinkled throughout the state.
For around $35 per night, you can have access to a cozy, rustic Alaska cabin. Most are tiny — maybe 16 feet square — with bunks, a table and a wood burning stove. Even better, the cabins are not simple to get to. Some of them require more than 30 miles of snowshoeing.
We went to one on the Kenai Peninsula, maybe 12 miles in. We enjoyed total seclusion as well as fine camp dinners. Another time, we hiked in just a mile in the dead of winter to a cozy spot next to a frozen lak., We all stretched out on the ice and watched the Northern Lights dance and twist across the sky. It was like being in another world.
So if you’re game for getting up to the frozen north and then plodding out into the real live outdoors, we’ve assembled descriptions of five of these charming cabins.
Just remember when you go to take all the appropriate emergency gear, good food and drink, and a hearty appetite for adventure.
Big Indian Creek Cabin
This 16×16 offers seclusion and the opportunity to explore the remote northeast interior of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. You might encounter moose, black and brown bears and wolves. It’s also a great jumping off point for cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
Not included are running water, electricity, mattress or bedding, cooking utensils, or cut firewood. Bringing a personal cooking stove is recommended.
Upper Russian Lake
The cabin is located south of Sterling Highway in the Chugach Wilderness. It’s just 14×12 and mountain stream runs alongside it. Follow the store down to the lake.
To get there, you’ll have to hike 12 miles or hire a floatplane. You’ll find the trailhead on Snug Harbor Road, 12 miles from the Sterling Highway out of Cooper Landing, which by the way has a fabulous restaurant on the river with a surly chef/owner. You can also get there by hiking 12 miles from the North Trailhead located within the Russian River Campground, milepost 52.6 of the Sterling Highway.
Trapper Joe Lake Cabin
This one has two bunk beds, a table with benches, wood stove, a splitting maul, a crosscut saw, and a boat with oars, established campfire ring, and outhouse. Primary access to the cabin is by float plane, ski plane, snowmobile and skiing.
It’s important to know this one has no designated trail. Contact the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge for gate information (907) 262-7021.
Devil’s Pass Cabin
You’ll find this one at the intersection of Devil’s Creek Trail and Resurrection Pass Trail, in the Kenai Mountains. It sits at the head of Juneau Creek But this one, even n the winter, can see a fair amount of traffic, so it’s not maybe the best for a remote adventure, but it would be a good one for companions.
Caribou Creek Cabin
This one takes a big walk, 32 miles, actually. To get there, you get to travel through Resurrection Pass. At the South Trailhead, at milepost milepost 53.2 of Sterling Highway. But if you want a shorter walk, you can take the North Trailhead, at milepost 4 of Resurrection Creek Road. that hike is only 7 miles, which might be better in the winter.
But no matter what your plans, you can be assured of a genuine winter adventure at any of these remote locales.
Photo credit: Flickr