Alaska is a huge state, and it can be difficult to explore a lot of it with our limited road system. However, there are lots of cabins around the state that can make a trip into the backcountry easier and more comfortable.

This past weekend, I traveled south with my basset hound, Einstein, and photographer, Andy, to the Kenai Peninsula in search of something uniquely Alaskan.

We pulled off the Seward Highway near Summit Lake, geared up and snowshoed into the woods. Our destination: Manitoba Cabin. It’s a renovated miners cabin, built in 1936, that has been open to the public for about two years now.

It’s run by the nonprofit group Alaska Huts and includes the cabin for cooking and socializing, two yurts for sleeping, an outhouse and a sauna.

“We tried to keep that historic look and feel and make it feel really homey and not bare bones,” said Alaska Huts Director John Wolfe. “You know, the whole point is to have it feel like a place you want to be.”

This cabin is the beginning of some ambitious plans by the Alaska Huts group.

“Eventually, we’re expecting a hut-to-hut system to attract people from other countries, and they’ll come and mix with Alaskans, and that’s part of the idea,” Wolfe said.

We didn’t meet anyone from other countries this weekend, but I did make 12 new friends.

“Yeah, the cabin was top-notch, just great space inside,” said cabin user Lucy Baranko. “The yurts were really nice. Just really impressed with the layout of it.”

The cabin serves as a camp for a lot of outdoor activities. It sits at the base of Manitoba Mountain, which is a popular spot in the winter for backcountry skiers.

“Nice, easy slopes. Good for people that aren’t looking to kill it, just looking to get out and have a good time,” Baranko said.

“Magical. One-hundred percent magical,” said Barnako of her experience. “When we got out here the other day I was just like, ‘Man, this is why I live in Alaska.’ It’s places like this that make this special.”

Whether it’s you, a basset hound and a sled, or a big group, it’s sure to be quite the adventure.


More On Manitoba Mountain

Manitoba Mountain was once a small ski area last open in 1960, and it could become a lift served ski area again in the near future.

The group Mountain Riders Alliance hopes to accomplish this in a different way than most ski resorts. They want to open a ski area with minimal focus on infrastructure and more emphasis on community integration, environmental respect and riders’ opportunity.

The latest step towards this goal involves the U.S. Forest Service and the public.

The Forest Service is rewriting their forest management guidelines then there will be a public commenting period on the current and future forest guidelines.

If the ski area does happen, plans call for three surface lifts, accessing 2,600 vertical feet and 10,000 acres.

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