Oliver Shanley the poodle stands on the porch of John Muir Cabin, where he stayed the night of Dec. 23, 2014. During the last fiscal year, the cabin was rented 263 nights, a new record.

Oliver Shanley the poodle stands on the porch of John Muir Cabin, where he stayed the night of Dec. 23, 2014. During the last fiscal year, the cabin was rented 263 nights, a new record.

Juneau cabins break attendance records

Juneau’s U.S. Forest Service roadside cabins set rental records this year.

For the fiscal year between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 20, 2015, “we posted the highest use we’ve seen,” said Juneau Ranger District Recreation Manager Ed Grossman.

Grossman attributes the increases both to cabin renovations and maintenance and improvements on the trails leading to the cabins.

Increases ranged between two days to 32 more days rented than previous years.

Dan Moller is the most rented cabin in the Tongass, Grossman said, at 278 nights. That wasn’t quite a record for itself, however — a few years ago, it was rented for 280 nights.

Windfall Lake Cabin was “a close second,” rented 274 nights. Usually, it’s the most rented cabin in the Tongass. Grossman attributes Dan Moller’s increase to its recent rebuild.

John Muir Cabin set a new record for itself, up 25 days and rented 263 nights.

The Forest Service has been working on improvements on Auke Nu Trail, which leads to the cabin. The agency has material cached and hopes to lay it down for further improvements this year, Grossman said.

John Muir Cabin also saw renovations a few years ago, so that the upper story can be closed off (to keep heat downstairs) or opened up to accommodate bigger groups of people, Grossman said. And of course, Spaulding Meadows also offers Nordic skiing.

Peterson Lake Cabin broke 200 nights rented for the first time last fiscal year, rented for 218 nights. The trail leading to the cabin has been seeing lots of improvements; it was rented 27 more nights last year than the year before.

Eagle Glacier Cabin was rented 214 nights, which Grossman said he also believes is a record.

“The five cabins you can hike in from our road system all exceed 200 nights, and several approach 300 nights, and that’s pretty darn marvelous,” he said. “That’s basically three quarters occupancy. Anyone that’s tried to get one knows that it’s difficult, especially on a holiday weekend, and the state cabins, as I understand it, are booked as solid as these. If there’s a successful program around, it’s our rental cabins for sure.”

Off the road system, the highest use cabin is Berners Bay Cabin, rented for 176 nights, two more than the previous year. The least used cabin in the Juneau Ranger District is East Turner Lake, which is accessible only by float plane, and therefore not when the lake is frozen, at 24 nights. Though it’s remote, it’s “a great spot,” with catch and release cutthroat Grossman describes as trophy size. West Turner Lake, six miles away, is accessible by boat and a ¾ mile hike, so sees three times that use.

The Forest Service has proposed increasing its cabin rental fees in the state to better cover maintenance and other costs. Read more about that here http://juneauempire.com/outdoors/2015-11-06/forest-service-proposes-raised-cabin-fees.

To read an article about the Turner Lake cabins, go here: http://juneauempire.com/outdoors/2013-05-10/cabin-lake.

• Contact Juneau Empire Outdoors Editor Mary Catharine Martin at maryc.martin@juneauempire.com.

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