Despite the fact that June is nearly halfway over, there is still plenty of time left in the summer season to enjoy the great outdoors — and a short cabin getaway might be the perfect place to start.
Ketchikan and its surrounding areas is nestled in the U.S. Forest Service Ketchikan Misty Fjords Ranger District, which maintains more than 30 cabins which are accessible by boat, plane and hiking trails.
Brad Schumaker, the ranger district's develop recreation manager, spoke with the Daily News about the most popular cabins in the area during a Wednesday afternoon phone interview.
Schumaker noted most of the cabins were all close to an hour away from Ketchikan by boat, which is preferred by most recreators due to financial ease, which makes the water-accessible cabins more popular.
"People just don't really fly as much as they boat," Schumaker said.
He commented that due to travel restrictions this year, he expected the cabins that are only accessible by air travel to see a decrease in popularity.
Popular outdoor activities at cabins
Schumaker told the Daily News that he believed a cabin trip is mostly desired by locals because of the capacity for outdoor activity.
"You'll have your fishing, hunting, beachcombing (and) just enjoying the area," he said.
Schumaker believes that visitors enjoy the cabins due to a peaceful environment — and the draw of alone time.
"The solitude's a (big reason to visit)," he said. "Just kind of getting out and disconnecting from the world is always a big one for folks."
Even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Schumaker thinks people can enjoy a cabin getaway.
"I think the benefits now are kind of the same as any other time," he explained. "It's just a great way to get out, enjoy your public lands and just kind of disconnect from the hustle and bustle of modern living."
Schumaker pointed to six of the most popular cabins in the district as examples of ways to enjoy outdoor opportunities in the area.
Fish Creek cabin
Constructed in 1978, the Fish Creek cabin is nestled "where Fish Creek cascades into Thorne Arm," according to online Forest Service information.
The cabin is located close to Low Lake Trail and Gokachin Lake Trail, and also provides fishing opportunities.
Fish Creek cabin is the most popular cabin in the district, Schumaker explained.
The cabin was recorded as receiving 109 nights of usage during a data period that spanned through 2016, 2017 and 2019.
During the "peak season," — identified by the Forest Service as being between May 1 and Sept. 30 — the cabin may be reserved for $80 per night. In the off season, which is between Oct. 1 and April 30, the cost drops to $65 per night.
Heckman Lake cabin
Situated on the lake of the same name, Heckman Lake cabin was built in 1967 and is close to the mouth of the Naha National Recreation Trail.
The cabin is accessible by boat, floatplane or by hiking from the beginning of the Naha trail.
Schumaker reported that the Heckman Lake cabin received 56 nights of usage during the three-year study period.
During the peak season, reservations may be made for $75 a night. During the off season, reservations are available for $60 a night.
Helm Bay cabin
The cabin, which is situated behind Foss Island and on the west shore of Helm Bay, "is especially noted for crab, salmon, halibut and red snapper," notes the Forest Service information.
The Helm Bay cabin also is close to a saltwater tide flat.
According to Schumaker, the cabin was the fourth-most popular destination in the district during 2016, 2017 and 2019. The cabin was occupied 62 nights of that period.
The Helm Bay cabin may be reserved for $80 a night during peak season, or $65 per night during the off season.
Helm Creek cabin
Like its nearby neighbor, the Helm Creek cabin is known for its excellent fishing opportunities. The cabin faces Helm Bay and it is adjacent to a tidal flat near Helm Creek.
The cabin was built in 1985, and is about 24 miles from Ketchikan.
The cabin can only be accessed by floatplane or boat.
According to Schumaker's information, the cabin was slightly more popular than the Helm Bay cabin — it was occupied for 76 nights during the period of study.
The Helm Creek cabin may be reserved for $80 a night during the peak season, or for $65 per night in the off season.
Jordan Lake cabin
Located roughly 15 miles from Ketchikan, this cabin is set in the Naha National Recreation Area.
"The cabin is accessed by the Naha Trail, which winds along the Naha River though old-growth rainforest of spruce and hemlock," the Forest Service states, adding that it is otherwise only accessible by floatplane.
The information notes that floatplanes may be unable to land on Jordan Lake due to its small size. Some pilots may choose to land on Heckman Lake, which is two miles away from the Jordan Lake cabin.
The lake presents opportunities for fishing. Salmon, steelhead and trout have all been recorded in the area.
Schumaker explained that the Jordan Lake cabin was the second most popular cabin, having seen 94 nights of occupation during his study period.
During the peak season, recreators can stay at the Jordan Lake cabin for $80 a night. In the off season, the price drops to $65 per night.
Phocena Bay cabin
The Phocena Bay cabin, although originally built in 1973, was relocated to its current position in 1985.
The Forest Service states that, "there is a spectacular view of Chapin Peak and the Puppet Mountains from the cabin deck, and relatively easy hiking in the area to explore nearby tide pools and forest."
With Clarence Strait visible from the site, recreators also may spot humpback or killer whales.
The cabin is roughly 15 air miles — or, 25 miles by boat — from Ketchikan. The cabin is built on the west side of Gravina Island, facing out toward Phocena Bay.
The Phocena Bay destination was just slightly more popular than the Helm Bay cabin, Schumaker noted, having been occupied for 65 nights during the indicated period.
The nightly reservation fee at the Phocena Bay cabin is $75 during the peak season. During the off season, the nightly fee is $60.
When it comes to staying at a cabin, Schumaker noted that visitors are asked to "just kind of be good stewards of them."
The Forest Service often is not able to visit a cabin to perform maintenance more than once per year, Schumaker explained, so visitors should not leave "a trace" behind.
Schumaker also cautioned recreators to be conscious of bears or other animals in the area.
“No one wants to have a surprise bear on their porch," he said.
Schumaker said that reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov.