Eaglecrest to break ground on public use cabin

In the plans for 20 years, project now ‘has legs to it’ thanks to community support

The proposed site of a new public access cabin at Eaglecrest Ski area lies about a mile from the parking lot, near the Upper Nordic Loop. (Photo courtesy Dave Scanlan)

This summer Eaglecrest Ski Area will break ground on a project 20 years in the making: a public access cabin.

 

Eaglecrest General Manager Dave Scanlan called the project, on display at a public meeting tonight, a “catalyst” to increasing year-round hiking, mountain biking and camping at the Douglas Island ski area. It’s the first in several cabin projects planned for Eaglecrest in coming years.

Diversifying recreation options at Eaglecrest has been a priority for Scanlan, who just completed his first full year stewarding the ski area. Scanlan sees the cabin as, “Kind of anchoring the growth of our summertime trail systems.”

The Forest Service’s similar Public Use Cabins are popular with locals and visitors alike, with reservations often being booked months in advance. Eaglecrest wants to offer a similar experience.

“Wilderness cabins are really attractive to a lot of the independent travelers and something many of the residents enjoy using,” Scanlan said. “Anytime we can engage the non-skiing public of Juneau is just such a huge advantage.”

The idea has been in the ski area’s master plan for almost 20 years, Scanlan said, but a recent funding push from the Juneau Community Foundation finally gave the project “legs to it.”

Building local backcountry cabins has been a priority for JCF’s Parks, Recreation and Trails “Field of Interest Fund,” said board member Reed Stoops in a Wednesday phone interview. About a year ago, the foundation developed specialty funds, which allow donors to pick which causes they most want to see their donations go to.

The Parks, Recreation and Trails Fund, which Stoops heads with Mike McKrill, identified three early priorities: Increase the number of backcountry cabins locally, finish the Treadwell Ditch Trail and spruce up local parks.

Stoops knew Eaglecrest had long hoped to build a cabin, and approached the Eaglecrest board with the idea to help fund it. The partnership between Eaglecrest and JCF was further bolstered by contributions from the Eaglecrest Foundation.

The project will cost about $120,000. About $25,000 will go toward a 100-yard access road, which trail users will use to get to the cabin from other Eaglecrest trails, and managers will use to truck out sewage and maintain the cabin.

Though Eaglecrest is owned and operated by the City and Borough of Juneau, the cabin project won’t cost taxpayers. Instead, it’ll be funded by private donations. So far, JCF, the Eaglecrest Foundation and private donors have each contributed $22,500, bringing the money in hand for the project to $67,500, Stoops said.

For about eight months, NorthWind Architects and MRV Design have been working pro bono to develop the cabin design. Scanlan described it as “modern rustic”: Large windows overlook upper Fish Creek Valley and Mt. Ben Stewart. A spacious, wrap-around deck will be well-used, Scanlan anticipates.

The cabin’s planned location is near the Hilda Valley Dam and the start of Treadwell Ditch Trail, roughly one mile from the parking lot, according to an Eaglecrest release. It should sleep up to eight people.

Eaglecrest will operate the cabin, renting it out to overnight guests from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. During the day, skiers, hikers, bikers and others can use the cabin as a warming hut or day lodge. Volunteers will also lead those interested to the cabin site to take a look around. Interested donors can contribute at the event.

The public is invited to learn more about the cabin concept, fundraising and construction plans at an informational meeting today, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Eaglecrest Lodge. The best way to stay up to date and to learn more about the project is to visit the JCF website at Juneaucf.org.


• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 or kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.


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