McKinley Lake Cabin

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

McKinley Lake Cabin offers guests recreation, relaxation and a remote lodging experience in southeastern Alaska. Located on the northwest end of McKinley Lake in the Chugach National Forest, guests will find fishing, hiking, hunting and wildlife viewing all within the vicinity.

Access to the cabin is by hiking, float plane or canoe. Visitors are responsible for their own travel arrangements and safety, and must bring several of their own amenities.

Natural Features: The cabin is situated on McKinley Lake and is surrounded by a dense spruce and hemlock forest. Steep mountainous terrain encircles the area.

Visitors will be treated to an abundance of wildlife. Loons and other waterfowl find habitat on the lake, while sockeye salmon splash and spawn in the nearby creek. Sitka black-tailed deer, moose, black and brown bear also inhabit the forest. Learn more about bear and moose safety in Alaska.

Recreation: McKinley Trail provides access to both the McKinley Trail Cabin, located just 100 yards from the trailhead, and this cabin, which is about 2.25 miles from the trailhead. The trail meets the shoreline of the lake at its southern lobe and at the cove at its upper end. Hiking approximately a quarter-mile beyond the cabin, visitors will find remnants of the Lucky Strike Mine. Rusting machinery, pipes and a collapsed tunnel are the most obvious evidence of the mine site.

At approximately 1.25 miles from the McKinley Trail trailhead is the junction for the Pipeline Lakes Trail, which wanders through muskeg meadows and spruce-hemlock forests below steep mountainsides. In the spring, brown bears can be seen grazing on the new grass on the south-facing slopes.

Anglers will find cutthroat trout near inlet creeks and gravel shoals near the cabin, and more healthy coho and sockeye at the mouth of the lake outlet. Many anglers concentrate on the Dolly Varden that follow the sockeye to eat their eggs. Walking up the Pipeline Lakes Trail, anglers will discover a series of five small lakes with resident cutthroat trout and some Dolly Varden. Using dry flies is the best bet in these lakes.

Hunters can take advantage of a long hunting season in the surrounding national forest. Bear season occurs during spring and fall, while deer season begins in late summer and lasts through late fall.

Facilities: The 16-by-20 cabin is equipped with wooden bunks that sleep up to six guests. The cabin is equipped with a table, benches, wood stove for heat, saw, axe, splitting maul, a rainwater catchment barrel and an outdoor pit toilet.

The cabin does not have running water, electricity or cut firewood. Visitors must bring their own supply of drinking water and firewood.

Visitors must bring food, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, a cook stove, matches, cooking gear, lanterns or flashlights, toilet paper, a first aid kit and garbage bags. All trash and food must be packed out, and visitors are expected to clean the cabin before leaving.

Fish Your National Forests: This site can be accessed by Access via Hiking Trail; Fish available include: Salmon, Trout, Native Trout; Types of fishing available include: Wade, Shore, Motorized boat, Float tube, Fly, Spin, Bait; 

At a Glance

Current Conditions: There are two cabins in the McKinley area and sometimes confusion arises as to which one is which. McKinley Trail Cabin is located near the Copper River Highway, about 100 yards up the McKinley Lake Trail. This cabin, McKinley Lake Cabin, is on the lake, about 2.25 miles from the trailhead Forest Order (10-04-00-14-47) that limits occupying/renting a public use rental cabin for more than seven consecutive days by any group or person Contact the Cordova Ranger District at (907) 424-7661 for more detailed information about safety precautions
Reservations: Reservations can be made at  Reservations can be made same day and can also be made up to 6 months in advance.
Fees Per night prices range from $50-60 (2018 prices) depending on season. Cabin fees are based on non-peak/peak season. Seasons vary by cabin. A non-refundable service fee will be added to each reservation by
Open Season: Year Round
Closest Towns: Cordova, AK
Information Center: This facility is located in an extremely remote and wild area; before making a reservation, become aware of bear, water, and weather safety (including cold) Recreating in Alaska can present both obvious and hidden dangers; please be aware of your surroundings and be prepared for extended stays due to occasionally poor weather Inclement weather conditions may cause an extension of your trip during any time of the year and winter access can be difficult due to snow and ice conditions; bring extra supplies to last 2-5 days Water is not available at this facility; visitors must bring their own for drinking, cooking, and cleaning Boil or treat all water collected from natural sources All garbage and food must be packed out

General Information

General Notes:

There are two cabins in the McKinley area and sometimes there's some confusion about which one is which. McKinley TRAIL cabin is the one near the Copper River Highway, about 100 yards up the trail. McKinley LAKE cabin is on the lake, about 2.25 miles from the trailhead.


GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
60.46861, -145.19278
60°28'7"N, 145°11'34"W

Access to the cabin is by float plane, canoe or a 2.25-mile hike through dense forest.

Hiking access begins at McKinley Lake Trail, a signed trailhead located at Mile 21 of the Copper River Highway.

Access by boat or canoe is up Alaganik Slough to McKinley Lake, approximately 2 miles. If paddling a canoe, check with the Forest Service office on the stream conditions. When the glaciers melt and there has been rain, the stream can get a little rowdy. Hazards include trees that have fallen across the creek. Boat access is best at high water in mid-June to September.

Access by float plane is typically 10 minutes from Cordova. Float planes land on the lake next to the cabin. In fall, winter, and early spring, the cabin may be inaccessible to float planes due to the frozen lake surface. Please contact the local Forest Service Ranger District office at (907) 424-7661 for information prior to making reservations for these periods.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


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River and Stream Fishing

Sockeye salmon aren’t very aggressive about taking flies or lures and by the time they reach this spawning area, they’re getting old and spent. Most anglers concentrate on the Dolly Varden that follow the sockeye to eat the eggs that don’t get buried. Cutthroat trout are in the lake in lesser numbers.

Whitefish cutthroat trout near the inlet creeks and gravel shoals. Generally, the coho and sockeye salmon in the lake are getting kind of old except when they first arrive at the mouth of the lake. The outlet can be reached by canoe or hiking, but if you’re hiking, there’s no trail for the last half and it’s easy to get turned around in the woods. There are much better places to fish for coho salmon.

Permit required?: Y


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