|Campground||Rosehip||Tors Trail||Red Squirrel|
|Colorado Creek||North Fork|
|Miles from Road||3.6||6.7||5.8||0.25|
|Trail to Cabin||Angel Creek||Angel Creek||Colorado Creek||Vehicle Access|
|Cabin Size||20 x 24||12 x 16||12 x 16||20 x 24|
|CABINS||Stiles Creek||Chena River||Nugget Creek||Hunt Memorial|
|Milepost||31.6 or 36.4||32.2||31.4||42.3|
|Miles from Road||8.0 or 7.3||Road Accessible||6.2||Road Accessible|
|Trail to Cabin||Stiles Creek||n/a||Nugget Creek||n/a|
|Sign Color||Red||n/a||Green||Nugget Creek|
|Cabin Size||12 x 14||20 x 24||10 x 12||16 X 24|
|SHELTERS||Angel Rocks||Chena Dome||Granite Tors|
|Milepost||48.9||49.1 or 50.5||39.5|
|Miles from Road||5||17 or 12||7.1|
|Trail to Shelter||Angel Rocks||Chena Dome||Granite Tors|
|Cabin Size||10 x 12||10 x 12||10 x 12|
Note: Cabins need to be reserved by paying the rental fee.
Shelters are on a first come, first serve basis and there is no fee.
People choose to stay in the recreation area's cabins for a wide variety of reasons. Some need a change of pace. Some desire a hint of excitement in their lives. For many, the best way to find both is to grab a pair of skis, harness up the sled dogs, strap on snowshoes, fire up the snowmachine, or lace up a favorite pair of hiking boots and head to one of the eight public-use cabins in the Chena River State Recreation Area.
The cabins are accessible from trailheads off Chena Hot Springs Road. All trails leading to cabins are color coded and easily visible. Because the average annual snowfall is more than 50 inches, trail markers are posted above eye level on trees. Summer trail conditions are generally swampy, but in winter the trails are usually good. People who plan to travel on the trails need basic wilderness skills, but not all the cabins are on routes that require major preparation.
The North Fork cabin is one of the most popular for travelers because of its easy vehicle access. The cabin is located at mile 47.7 Chena Hot Springs Road, just past the locked gate on the west side of the road. In the worst weather, it is only a five-minute walk from the road, but the cabin's proximity to the highway does not keep visitors from receiving a taste of the surrounding wilderness.
The Chena River Cabin is also very popular because of its easy vehicle access. Beyond a locked gate, the cabin sits next to the Chena River surrounded by Birch and Spruce trees. Popular activities at the cabin include biking, fishing, rafting, and skiing. The Chena River PUC is designed to accommodate visitors who need extra accessibility, though visitors should anticipate some snow removal may be needed to make the facility fully accessible. The front porch has ramp access and there is a ramp to the accessibly-designed outhouse.
People who desire a more isolated sojourn can reserve one of the other cabins. The Colorado Creek, Stiles Creek, and Upper and Lower Angel Creek cabins all require some travel preparation.
The Colorado Creek cabin, an older log structure, is six miles from the trailhead at mile 31.6 Chena Hot Springs Road, and the trail is coded blue. Take precautions when crossing Colorado Creek; it is notorious for turning dry boots into cold, wet ice cubes. The trip seems to be well worth the effort, judging from the journal entries in the cabin describing the trip as lovely and the cabin as "a fine place."
The Stiles Creek cabin, originally built in 1994, burnt down in 1997 and was rebuilt in 1998. It is the only high country cabin in the recreation area. Situated in the trees on a sunny, south-facing slope, it provides an excellent view of the countryside below. The cabin is located midway on a 15-mile loop, sharing trailheads with Colorado Creek at milepost 31.6 and the shooting range at mile post 36.4. The first and last few miles of the trail, marked with red trail markers, climb steeply up (or down, respectively) a grade.
The Nugget Creek Cabin can be reached from two trailheads. From the trailhead located at mile 31.6 (Colorado/Stiles Creek), follow the green trail makers across Chena Hot Springs Road, up the South Fork 6.2 miles to the cabin. The other trailhead, for the Mist Creek Trail, is for non-motorized use only. Hikers and skiers can park at the Shooting Range access located at Mille 36.4 Chena Hot Springs Road. The trail access is across the road and river, and is not well marked. The trail is not regularly maintained and is a very difficult route. It is recommended only for the more experienced users. Follow the Mist Creek Trail 5.4 miles to the cabin. The Mist Creek Trail is closed to motorized vehicles year-round.
The two Angel Creek cabins are frame constructions located approximately 3.1 and 6.7 miles east of Chena Hot Springs Road. One contented visitor writing in the cabin's log book said "Angel Creek has a charm all its own. Had a leisurely ski up the valley. The snow was just perfect." If you want to try a similar experience, these cabins can be reached by two different trails that begin at mile 50.5 Chena Hot Springs Road. The Angel Creek trail is identified by yellow trail markers. The Chena Dome trail also connects with the Angel Creek cabin via a short side trail. Signs make the trails relatively easy to identify.
Trips to the cabins can be rich in more ways than one, providing a change from the rigors of day-to-day life. A journal entry from the North Fork cabin describes one person's escape: "Visitors from Norway and refugees from Fairbanks. We came for a night of quiet, fishing and soaking. All was accomplished."
Cabins are available to rent for up to three consecutive nights by reservation only. All the cabins are furnished with sleeping platforms. Each cabin also has an airtight wood stove so people should gather dead wood along the way to have an adequate supply of fuel for warm winter fires. Wood can be hard to find at some cabins, but each cabin comes with an authentic Alaskan outhouse and a lantern to light your path on those dark but essential forays. Area streams provide water, but always treat by boiling, filtering, or with chemicals before drinking. Information on cabin rental rates and availability is offered at any State Park office.
Four backcountry shelters have also been constructed in the recreation area. They are located in remote areas and are primarily for emergency shelter during poor weather. Most of the shelters are not insulated and contain only a wood stove. They do not have sleeping platforms, tables, or other furnishings as do the cabins. These shelters are available on a first-come-first-served basis. There is no charge for the use of these facilities but they may not be reserved for exclusive use, and use is limited to short duration.
Animal sightings are plentiful. Use your common sense when out on the trails, and always give animals the right of way. It doesn't take long for a bear to catch wind of a free meal!