Big Shaheen Cabin

RAF Southeast Alaska Liaison Jeff DeFreest  has concerns that some of the 140 US Forest Service cabins in the vast Tongass National Forest are in jeopardy of closure. These cabins are open for public use at very affordable fees, but perceived lack of usage has caused the Forest Service to re-consider continuing to preserve them.

“These cabins are a true treasure in one of the most beautiful parts of the world,” RAF Director Jeff Russell has said. 

DeFreest developed a positive relationship with the USFS in his region. This good relationship was developed in part due tohis 30-year career with the Forest Service, including serving as District Ranger within the Tongass National Forest. Since his retirement, now as an RAF volunteer, he received permission to create an informational letter to post in the cabins urging users to record their use. In part, the letter states, “the Forest Service looks closely at low cabin use – and rising access and maintenance costs – when considering which cabins best serve the public now and into the future.” It points out that the Forest Service uses the official agency reservation system to accurately assess cabin usage. He emphasizes the importance of informing agency managers of maintenance needs to help them prioritize where to spend their limited maintenance funds.

Hasselborg Lake view from the Big Shaheen Cabin

His campaign began by posting the letter at the historic Big Shaheen Cabin in the Kootznoowoo Wilderness in Admiralty Island National Monument. The letter also includes some cabin use tips, and asks users to reply to him as Recreational Aviation Foundation Southeast Alaska liaison.

View from Big Shaheen Cabin: Hassleborg Lake


  1. Duncan Thomas on September 1, 2021 at 7:48 am

    Is there a web site that provides a list of all cabins in the Tongass that you can either fly in on wheels and or floats. I’m flying up this weekend and would like to stay at one or two if possible on my way up and back from Los Angeles.

    • Jeff on May 24, 2023 at 9:51 pm is the US Forest Service website for facilities rentals

  2. Bryan Cox on September 1, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Yes, I wish this article had more useful information as to how to book or fly to one of these cabins. How do I see what options are available? What is the best way to fly there? Are there places I could rent a plane and explore this wilderness? Is there route or weather considerations?

  3. butch pennewell on September 4, 2021 at 4:33 am

    Are some or all of these accessible people and vehicles as well?

    • Jeff on May 24, 2023 at 9:53 pm

      Yes, many of the 140 (or so) Tongass Cabins are accessible by more than one means. Some fly-in cabins have a trail to salt water. A few cabins are on a trail or road system, and some cabins are only accessible by boat.

  4. Kevin on September 28, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    A great resource about the lake cabins put together by a float plane guy:

  5. Karla on December 21, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    Forest Service cabins in Alaska are booked through
    Here is the link to Big Shaheen cabin (pictured in article)

    If you scroll down on the linked page you will see other cabins in the area.

    From Juneau, Ward Air is a good air taxi to book for flights to cabins.

    Juneau also has cabins accessible by hiking from the road system; however, those book very quickly.

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