Island Wings Air Service

Forest Service Cabin Transportation

Car Camping Southeast Alaskan Style!

The US Forest Service cabins of Southeast Alaska offer some of the finest opportunities available to experience the true outdoor wilderness of Alaska. Whether you arrive in Ketchikan by ferry or commercial airline, you will be flown, via floatplane, deep into the heart of the Tongass National Forest to "your" lake and dropped off at "your" cabin door. The lakes are surrounded by majestic mountains covered with towering spruce and hemlock trees. Island Wings transports clients to forest service cabins in the misty fiords national monument.
Island Wings clients at a forest service cabin.  A seaplane is the only way to access many cabins in southeast Alaska. Choosing a cabin can be confusing at best as there are 150 of them and the USFS often does not give much information. So if you're stuck or looking for suggestions, give us a call, we can help you pick out one that is right for you! Click here for the US Forest Service cabins central reservations or call them toll free at 1-877-444-6777.
Forest Service cabins are approximately 12'x12' milled from cedar logs made by Pan Abode and come equipped with an axe, saw, maul, broom, mop & bucket. Two sets of wooden bunks sleep up to 6 close friends, two singles on top and two doubles on the bottom bunks. Four is comfortable, two is perfect! There is a wood stove for heating. Firewood is cut in rounds by the Forest Service but you must split your own firewood and kindling. Some of the cabins are equipped with oil stoves. For these cabins you must bring #1 Diesel oil with you from Ketchikan. The cabins are equipped with a fourteen foot aluminum skiff and oars to help you enjoy the scenic grandeur and fishing on your wilderness lake. Some of the lakes also have trails for hiking. Forest service cabins are spread throughout the Misty Fiords and offer a multitude of wilderness experiences.
Island Wings transports to the most scenic forest service cabins in the Misty Fiords with the best fishing and sightseeing opportunities. Southeast Alaskan lakes and streams offer the finest fishing and include: Cutthroat and Rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic Grayling and Kokanee (land locked Salmon). Salmon of some type abound in virtually every stream from mid to late summer. Fishing gear is often a matter of personal choice, but most local fisherman use 6 to 8 pound test line. If you have a favorite lure, or fly, bring it to test in Alaska's lakes and streams.
Because you will be flying to a cabin accessible only by floatplane, we have put together this checklist to help you pack for your stay. Keep in mind while you are packing that you should bring only necessities. Extra gear and bulky items will overload the aircraft and you will end up having to repack at the dock or charter an additional flight to carry any excess items. You are allowed a total weight of 1,200 pounds for the DeHavilland Beaver. This includes the weight of all passengers including the clothes you have on, and your gear! The physical space limit is often maximized before the weight limit is reached. Please pack your gear in small sized units or bring extra stuff sacks for repacking at the dock. This helps in loading the plane properly. Hard sided suit cases are more trouble than they're worth. For those of you flying at the Cessna rate you will be limited to 750 pounds of people and gear. Island Wings client at a forest service cabin.  A sea plane is the only way to access many cabins southeast Alaska.

Checklist of Recommended Items to Bring

The following items can be rented here in Ketchikan as a complete kit:
  • Portable camp stove,
  • Fuel for stove,
  • Coffee pot,
  • Pot with lid, a skillet and sauce pan for heating water
  • Cooking utensils and silverware-spatula, large spoons, can opener, sharp knife, fillet knife, forks and spoons,
  • Towels, dish towels, pot holders, scrubber,
  • Dishes-bowls, plates & cups,
  • Soap-dish soap, bar soap.
Island Wings transports by seaplane to forest service cabins and many cabins have skiffs.  Wildlife sightseeing hiking and fishing abounds.
These items can also be rented and are highly recommended:
  • Lantern-propane or kerosene,
  • Air mattress or foam pad,
  • First aid kit,
  • Life jackets or flotation devices
  • Fishing pole & gear,
  • Outboard motor - comes with gas, instructions, spare parts & tool kit.

If you choose to rent any of the items listed above you can visit Alaska Wilderness Outfitting or call (907) 225-7335 to make reservations. The rented items will be on the dock when you depart for the cabin.

Many forest service cabins are waterfront and Island Wings will bring the floatplane right to your cabin front door.
Additional items you will need that are NOT available for rent:
  • Sleeping bag,
  • Rain gear & rubber boots,
  • Clothes- Extra change in case you get wet,
  • Camera and plenty of memory & batteries!
  • Insect Repellent,
  • Lighter or Matches,
  • Aluminum foil and plastic wrap
  • Paper towels & toilet paper
  • Candles, flashlight and extra batteries
  • Fire starter - Newspaper
Island Wings client fishing at a forest service cabin.  A sea plane is the only way to access many cabins in southeast Alaska.
On the map and in the table below you will find about 30 of the USFS cabins listed. We have selected the cabins which offer the most in the way of recreational opportunities for fishing, hiking and scenic beauty. If there is a cabin you are interested in that is not listed here please call or email us for more information.

Transportation Cost to Specific U.S.Forest Service Cabins
(prices quoted are round-trip fares for the airplane)

Destination Costs1 Destination Costs1 Destination Costs1
Anan $2,160 Helm Bay $1,080 Orchard Lake $1,700
Anchor Pass $2,210 Honker Lake $2,160 Patching Lake $1,200
Blakewell $1,800 Hugh Smith $1,800 Punchbowl Lake $1,800
Big Goat $2,040 Humpback Lake $1,980 Reflection Lake $1,870
Blind Pass $1,800 Karta Lake/River $1,700 Salmon Lake $1,700
Checats $1,800 Kegan Lake $1,700 Salmon Bay Lake $2,880
Eagle Lake $2,210 Manzanita $1,600 Shelokum Lake $1,870
Ella Lake $1,200 McDonald Lake $1,700 Wilson Lake $2,040
Heckman Lake $1,200 Mirror Lake $1,260 Winstanley Lake $1,800
S.E. Heckman $1,200 Nooya Lake $2,040 Red Bay Lake $3,240
Sweetwater Lake $2,600

Floatplane Loading Guidelines

All aircraft have weight and balance restrictions. This means the plane can only carry a particular amount of weight. Here are some guidelines that will help you plan and pack appropriately.

  • Total Weight not to exceed 1,050 pounds!
  • Four passengers
  • Two ice chests with food
  • A box of dry food:
  • Five medium duffel bags (soft sided luggage strongly encouraged)
  • Small gas motor ( 2 hp ) with fuel
  • Cooking supplies including stove and lantern
  • Fishing gear and/or rifles
  • All the gear should fit inside the airplane, so compactness is essential

1. Aircraft Rate: 1 to 4 passengers and gear, weighing up to 1,050 pounds Combined Total Weight.

Photos on this site are courtesy of Jim Kelnhofer, Mike Beedell, Craig Flatten, Amy Gulik, Dave & Leah Alcyon, Chip Porter, Carla Tchalemian and Lisa Thompson.  Many thanks to our guests who've
provided us with photos over the years.  Unauthorized use of any content from this site is prohibited.  Content on this website is subject to change without notice.  Island Wings Air Service is fully
licensed.  Flightseeing and Air Tours conducted in the Tongass National Forest and Misty Fjords National Monument are operated under permits issued by USDA Forest Service and the State of
Alaska.  Island Wings Air Service is an equal opportunity provider.

Island Wings Air Service | P.O. Box 7432 Ketchikan, AK 99901 | Toll Free (888) 854-2444 | Email:

©Island Wings Air Service® 1993