For scenic beauty Swan Lake is number one in the Tongass Forest. It also is one of the nicest and newest cabins. In the high elevations all the cabins are A frames because of the winter snow loads. There has been a cabin in this area since the thirties. A major trail was made by the Civilian Conservation Corps, today the trail is still there but many of the original structures have been wiped out due to floods. This trail goes from the ocean to the lake and is rough in places. At the outlet end of the lake there is a boat which allows a hiker to get from the ocean to the cabin. There is another boat at the cabin. In 2010 there were two boats at the cabin and one at the end of the lake.
The lake is at 1525 feet elevation and is surrounded by mountains of 4000 feet and higher. The canyon going in is narrow and going into the lake you need 2000 feet of elevation. If you find a fog layer on the lake you have the room to turn around. The lake is almost two miles long, but if you are coming in high you lose altitude you can make a turn over the cabin and land going back toward the outlet.
Going out can be a bigger issue. The problem is you do not know what the weather is on the outside unless you have a sat phone. If you can get to about 2200 feet you can look out the canyon and make a decision, if you decide not to go you have the altitude to make the turn. If your plane does not climb well consider taking off from the outlet and gain altitude toward the cabin then make the turn over the cabin and go out toward the outlet. Remember the lake can be clear and the ocean can be covered with a cloud base.
The A-frame cabin was rebuilt in 2005-06 and has two wooden bunks and a sleeping loft to accommodate up to seven people. It is equipped with a table and benches and a clean-burning oil heater. An outhouse with pit toilets is provided.
Water for drinking, cooking and cleaning purposes is not provided at the cabin. Water taken from the lake and the nearby stream should be treated or boiled before consumption. Guests are encouraged to bring their own drinking water if possible.
Guests will need to bring their own sleeping bags and pads, cook stove and cooking gear, towels, food and clothing, fire starter and garbage bags, among other necessities. Guests are advised to bring enough kerosene or No. 1 heating oil for the oil heater. It burns at a rate of approximately one gallon per day. Oil is not supplied at the cabin.
On an alpine lake (1514′ or 461 m elevation) east of Thomas Bay on the mainland northeast of Petersburg – 18 air miles (29 km) from Petersburg. Float plane when lake is open. Helicopter when lake is frozen. Some years the lake does not thaw until July. Call floatplane companies to ensure access to cabin.
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