Hike funding

Juneau expected to get new cabins with federal funding

John Muir cabin. September 16, 2022. (Photo by Yvonne Krumrey/KTOO)

Juneau’s system of public-use cabins is popular – and often booked well in advance. Now, other cabins may soon be available for overnight stays.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Alaska Region just received $20 million for public cabins, regional director of recreation, lands and minerals James King said.

“Alaska did very well,” he said. “We have $14.4 million of that $20 million to repair, restore, or build new cabins.

Money is part the federal infrastructure bill that was passed last year.

There are currently a dozen public cabins accessible from Juneau’s road network. Some are owned and maintained by the state, some by the Forest Service, and some by the city and borough of Juneau.

Now the Forest Service is offering several new cabins in Juneau, out of 50 cabins offered statewide.

Most of the existing cabins are along trails that take several miles to walk, and King said the goal is to build more accessible cabins for people who can’t necessarily get there.

“A big part of that money for us with the new ones is putting those cabins where the demand is,” King said. “For a lot of that, it’s close to communities.”

The new proposals have varied purposes: some are right next to the Mendenhall Glacier and would be accessible by car; another along Montana Creek creates a cabin “hiking” opportunity, where people can hike from cabin to cabin to walk a longer trail in Juneau.

These ideas are receiving a lot of feedback.

“We’re really pleased with the response,” he said. “We received over 500 comments on the location of the cabins.”

Ryan O’Shaughnessy runs Juneau’s trail maintenance nonprofit, Trail Mix, Inc. He says part of their partnership with the city is supporting new cabin projects.

“We really like to think of ourselves as a tool in the grounds managers toolbox for recreation projects, so we’re very happy to help build cabins or happy to help build trails to cabins, to clearing land for cabins and everything,” O’Shaughnessy said. “We are very supportive of these projects.

Proposition 2 on the Juneau local ballot will also help fund more booths, O’Shaughnessy said. The measure is set to pass once the city certifies election results later this week.

All cabin proposal projects can be explored on an interactive map, and comments on the new Forest Service cabins may be made through Oct. 31. King said some plans were already underway ahead of the new federal funding, which means new cabins could be available as early as next summer. He hopes more will be built in the next four years.