The view of Kupreanof Island and Petersburg Creek from near the site of the new cabin in January 2021 (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

The U.S. Forest Service says a popular mountaintop recreational cabin near Petersburg will be replaced this year. The trail that leads to it has also been mostly redone and that work is slated to be completed in 2021 as well.

The Petersburg company Rainforest Contracting will build a new Ravens Roost Cabin at a site about a mile closer to the trailhead than the old cabin. The federal agency says that work is scheduled to begin in a few months.

Paul Olson, the cabin and trails program manager for the Forest Service in Petersburg, described the new structure.

“It’s a one-story building with a loft and it’s got a covered deck out front, so that’ll all be handicapped-accessible,” said Olson. “It’s got about 6-8 people that it could fit. We’ve got some ideas to put some hooks and stuff like on the deck so people could use their hammock tents or something comparable for added capacity. There’ll be an outhouse out back. There’ll be a propane heater.”

The wood for the new cabin comes from a sawmill in Hoonah. Local high school shop students made some of the table tops from Alaska yellow cedar and western red cedar.

The new structure will replace the old Ravens Roost cabin, which is more than 40 years old. Some of it will be salvaged, the rest removed, along with the portion of the trail between the old cabin site and the new cabin.

Olson said the old cabin saw a fair amount of unpaid use but not a lot of paying customers booking the cabin on the website.

“So we’re hoping by moving it a mile closer and making the trail much more easily accessible and easier to hike, that will get more sort of year-round use almost and kind of self-patrolling in some respects too,”{ Olson said.

It’s hoped that new cabin will be done this fall. That work is funded by the Forest Service’s capital improvement program for 568,000 dollars.

There are 18 cabins on the Petersburg Ranger District. Ravens Roost is the only one on Mitkof Island, although there are several three-sided shelters.

Meanwhile the hike up to that cabin, about 1800 feet above sea level on the mountain behind Petersburg, has been dramatically improved. Trail reconstruction started in 2019 and will be finished up this year. A different contractor has installed several sections of metal stairs, along with hundreds of concrete steps and new sections of gravel and rock trail. The Forest Service says with the improvements use by the public has at least doubled.

A section of the newly rebuilt Ravens trail in December 2020 (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

The trail work will cost about 800,000 dollars and was funded by the Federal Highway Administration and other federal grant money from the Secure Rural Schools Program.

It’s not the only Forest Service trail work that’s slated to happen on this island. The agency also plans a reconstruction of the trail to Ideal Cove from Hill Lake on the eastern side of Mitkof.

Olson said the agency hopes to award that work this year and it could be rebuilt next year.

“It’ll be a combination of things similar to the Raven trail,” he said. “It’ll have gravel as much as possible, some boardwalk, some concrete or stone steps and that kind of stuff.”

The bridge by Hill Lake will also be replaced. The Ideal Cove trail work is among almost 40 projects on the Tongass and Chugach national forests that have funding secured this year under the Great American Outdoors Act of 2020.