For lakeside adventures of all kinds — with canoe trails, pike fishing and wildlife viewing nearby — try this 22,500-acre multi-use park outside Willow, featuring 131 lakes and a network of trails. Its 13 public use cabins range from places that offer motorboat access, to vehicle parking, to true wilderness refuges reachable only by canoe or ski trail. Winter creates a snow-sport mecca for cabin users too — skiing, Nordic skating, snow biking and snowmobiling.
Family And Child-friendly Cabins
For a breeze-to-supply overnight that still delivers on the promise of a wilderness setting, visit Bald Lake Cabin, situated on its own secluded lake. Only a half-mile walk down a gently sloping trail from parking, the Bald Lake sleeps six in a true log cabin with a covered front porch. The lake is perfect for kids taking their first paddles, and the landing has a solid bottom for an afternoon swim.
If you want to travel paddle-in-hand like an old-time Voyager — possibly moving cabin-to-cabin on a multi-day trek — the Lynx Lake Canoe Trail offers access to four different PUCs over an eight-mile loop that crosses 14 lakes. Lynx Lake Cabin #1, Lynx Lake Cabin #2 and Lynx Lake Cabin #3 are on Lynx Lake, about half way through the trip, all offering great pike fishing and miles of paddling. But the jewel of the trip may be James Lake Cabin, a handsome log cabin that sleeps six, deep in the park on an open hillside beneath huge birch trees. As you enjoy an amazing view of an empty lake, loons cry, beavers splash, and the wind rustles the leaves. You can spend days there and see no other parties.
Stay At A Lake With A History — And Big Pike
The salmon runs into immense Red Shirt Lake once drew Dena’ina Natives to spend summers in fish camps along its shores. Now known for big Northern pike, the 1,183-acre lake remains a gathering place, with dozen of private homes and four popular public use cabins - Red Shirt Lake Cabin #1, Red Shirt Lake Cabin #2, Red Shirt Lake Cabin #3, and Red Shirt Lake Cabin #4. It’s an adventure to reach these cabins. In summer, most people hike a three-mile trail and then canoe across the lake. (The winter trail is about seven miles and opens only after freeze up.) For the best of everything — fishing, boating, lake views, great fishing — try Red Shirt Lake Cabin #3. Perched on an island in the middle of the lake, the cabin sleeps eight and faces southwest with a good beach and a long view. You’ll never run out of things to do.
Planes, Boats and Canoes
It’s not always about wilderness. For those who seek action with reasonable access, four public use cabins on Nancy Lake offer families and adventurers a chance to experience one of Alaska’s most popular recreation lakes while over-nighting in one of its more quiet corners. Perched on a point between a no-wake cove and the busy main lake, Nancy Lake Cabin #1 offers the best of all worlds in a new log cabin that sleeps six only a short walk or paddle from parking. Great for kids and active groups, the cabin can be a base for canoeing, swimming, fishing and motorboating. Winter trails lead from its doorstep deep into the park and all around the lake.
A place for people who want to experience the serenity of deep woods but maintain the option of boating or skiing on a 761-acre water playground with plenty of action. Situated on a hillside beneath a mature stand of spruce and birch, this new log cabin is the most isolated PUC near Nancy Lake proper.
If you want a convenient no-frills outpost close to your boat or airplane — and just off the winter trail — Nancy Lake Cabin 3 will fit the bill. What this well-used, old-style public use cabin lacks in amenities or architectural wonder may be compensated by its simplicity and ease of heating on frigid winter nights. Cozy is the word — a warm, dry refuge after a long day outside.
On the shore in the quiet corner of a busy lake, Nancy Lake 1 may be one of the most versatile public use cabins in Alaska. One minute you’re in deep woods beneath a towering canopy, and then, like stepping through the looking glass, you descend a hill to find a storybook log cabin with a panoramic view of boating and fishing, or skiing and snowmobiling.
“Cabin” may be the wrong word for this sprawling, comfortable cottage fronted by an ample floating dock ready for all kinds of lake fun. With a covered front porch large enough to keep an extended family reunion dry during a late summer downpour, this facility is really a one-room house, nearly 600 square feet of living space compete with a semi-private sleeping bay, a closet, plus gobs of room to cook, lounge and play.
This handsome, well-seasoned log cabin is the postcard for your public use cabin dreams. If they filmed “Alaska Public Use Cabins — The Movie,” the producers would have a hard time finding a better place than James Lake for the setting.
Centered on a park-like island with winding trails through the brush, Red Shirt Lake Cabin 1 is a big cabin that’s an easy paddle from the launch point at end of the three-mile Red Shirt Lake Trail. From its sprawling front porch, you can glimpse water on two sides, but no major vistas. Situated in the mouth of the lake’s protected northwestern lobe, the cabin is a great launch point for exploration by canoe when the main lake becomes windy and choppy.
Red Shirt Cabin 3 celebrates the ancient spirit of Red Shirt Lake as a gathering place. The lake once featured large salmon runs and summer camps for Dena’ina Native groups, and still hosts private cabins on its southern half. The cabin may be perfect for large parties in quest of lake action, a platform for those who want strenuous days of paddling, fishing, swimming, and motoring followed by rousing evening campfires.
Located on an isthmus between a sheltered cove and the main body of a vast backcountry lake, Red Shirt Lake Cabin 2 offers a basic, easy-to-heat base for exploring 1,186-acre Red Shirt Lake regardless of weather. It gives a small party no-fuss access to water, fuel and ski trails — a cozy space to relax when the day is done and the light begins its dying slant.
Ideal for those paddling, boating, fishing, hiking as well as those looking for seclusion away from the lake’s more popular routes for skiing and snowmobiling. The cabin faces the sunset and may be the perfect locale to string a hammock for long summer afternoons listening to forest birds.
Bald Lake Cabin is a great choice for people who want to stay at an Alaska wilderness cabin on a pristine lake, but don’t want to travel far to get there. On the hillside overlooking isolated Bald Lake, the cabin offers seclusion and privacy only a short walk from your vehicle. It’s a “best of both worlds” kind of place — where you can spend the day exploring a virtually private lake with interesting bays, or quickly dash back to your vehicle to explore or fish other lakes along the Nancy Lake Parkway.
Have you ever wanted to spend time in a trapper’s shack deep in the Alaska Bush? A place where you might see the outline of a loon’s head against slate water with Denali gleaming above the trees and no other movement? Nestled on a peninsula on a lake deep inside the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area, Lynx Lake Cabin 1 is private, snug and cozy. An early-to-bed, early-to-rise retreat with a weathered, lived-in vibe.
These two almost identical cabins (only 200 feet apart) are aimed toward adventurers and families who want to include both paddling and hiking in their daily adventures. They offer direct access to two lakes as well as the park’s trail system. Though relatively close, each cabin is colored by a slightly different atmosphere. Lynx 2’s porch faces the sunset, with good afternoon sun and a view of Lynx Lake. It feels open, more exposed. Lynx 3 faces east, the sunrise choice, and is closer to dense forest with a view of Baines Lakes. Yes, there is some traffic on the road, but it passes quickly and doesn’t seem to intrude. If you are using only one cabin, the distance is just far enough to ensure privacy from the other.
Rhein Lake Cabin overlooks a large, pristine lake with great paddling and decent fishing for rainbow trout in the forest of Nancy Lake State Recreation Area near Willow. This handsome (brand-new in 2018) log cabin offers something special in a vast park known for its backcountry outposts