Bearpaw Ranger Cabin

Caribou Creek loved the challenge of building a new log cabin in a remote area of Sequoia National Park. The Bear Paw Cabin was initially required to replace an old A-frame cabin in need of repair that had been built decades ago.

Caribou Creek Builds National Park Log Cabin

At Sequoia National Park, outside of Porterville California, preserving the pristine wilderness is a top priority. Since 90% of the park is designated wilderness with strict limitations to what can be built, this project had some unique challenges.

The estimated cost to fix the problems of the previous cabin in Sequoia National Park were extremely prohibitive. Park administration sought out an attractive and durable log cabin that could house the ranger on duty in an inaccessible and remote area. Located on the High Sierra Trail, this specific site has a campground just off the historical trail that sees a lot of traffic each summer. This project required a log cabin builder that could adapt to very specific requirements.

Every aspect of the project had to be approved at the federal level, and all construction required prior planning and keen attention to detail. Caribou Creek designed the Bear Paw Cabin to match the series of handcrafted log homes along some of the trails in the national park. These homes serve the purpose of being functional while retaining the ambiance of the surrounding environment.

Having high-end cabins in a pristine and protected environment involves some strategic planning and careful consideration. The size and location of each of the handcrafted log homes needed to fit the historic significance and architectural style of the area. Overall, they were looking for a combination of function, durability, and style.

Continued below…

Remote Area Log Cabin Requires Design Flexibility

The park is home to some of the oldest living trees on earth. People flock to the region to experience the majesty of the forest and mountains. To conserve the area and offer facilities to visitors, log cabins with specific design details have been added as needed. Due to the nature of the government tender, the job went to the most affordable bidder that met project requirements. 

Having the flexibility to build a cabin with doors, windows, and a layout that fit the design and location was the focus of initial communication. For the Bear Paw Cabin, Caribou Creek Log & Timber received approval to complete the project and the cabin was delivered to the park within a 5-month timeframe.

Because of Caribou Creek’s vast experience in the industry we were able to pay close attention to detail. We delivered a quality, yet rustic cabin that resembles a log cabin kit, suitable for assembly on site. 

The Bear Paw Cabin is a full-scribe handcrafted log home designed in the style of a small ranger cabin. It’s constructed using lodgepole pine, a species of wood with a rugged character. The look and texture of these logs give a rustic, western feel to the completed cabin. Each log fits exactly on top of the one below with no chinking between the rows of logs. As it is built, the logs are shaved to fit tightly together, creating a permanent seal that gets stronger as the building settles with age. This design is built to last and offers natural warmth and dependability.

For the Sequoia National Park, this historic style cabin fit the atmosphere of the other buildings in the ancient forest. Additionally, the strong, long-lasting quality offered by Caribou Creek was essential for the remote location of the Bear Paw log cabin. With no road access, partnering with a builder that could provide a superior product made the project a success.

Drawing of the Bear Paw Log Cabin.

Handcrafted Log Homes in the Wilderness: Customization & Easy Upkeep

Sequoia National Park had previously worked with four different log cabin builders for the completion of accommodations and park facilities. There always seemed to be a learning curve with every new company, and they were pleasantly surprised at how smooth it was to work with Caribou Creek. 

Because this was a replacement for a previous build, the fit and finish needed to match the building design and style of the park. This was of the utmost importance to Caribou Creek. Second to that was to simplify maintenance requirements as much as possible because of the remote location. They needed something with easy upkeep that would stand the test of time and the elements of nature as well. 

In this case, all required materials were delivered to Sequoia and the park hired a crew to come and reset the building on the foundation in the forest. For most other projects, Caribou Creek arranges travel to the job site and reassembles the handcrafted log homes in the permanent location. 

As a standard part of the process, Caribou Creek has custom log home builders with the skills and experience to complete the reset right on location. At the same time, we often work with contractors and home-builders and are focused on the flexibility required to allow each project to be truly customized. 

The Sequoia National Park administration found the entire design process to be a fantastic experience. They were able to describe exactly what they needed with confidence, right down to where the windows should go. Open dialogue between both the log cabin builders and the park offices made things simple. When the park employees needed to make some changes, the design team at Caribou Creek gave them exactly what they were looking for.

When it came time for delivery, Sequoia National Park chose to use a big parking lot to offload everything from the Caribou Creek truck. This allowed them to close off the space securely and have an area for the truck, the logs, and the helicopter. After it was offloaded, it had to be weighed and sorted so that the helicopter could begin to take it into the log cabin build site. The park helicopter could only carry 1200 pounds at a time so strategic planning of loads was essential.

As the project started to come together, everything Caribou Creek sent was labeled and clearly indicated where it belonged. Piecing together this cabin could have been a logistical nightmare. There was a lot that could go wrong with this project. We first had to fly in all of the building material and sort it before it could be flown by helicopter onto the build site. 

We also had to make sure we had everything required for the construction phase. The building needed to be assembled without access to a permanent power supply or many supplies at all. The finishing touches of the Bear Paw log cabin, including the organized delivery and the quality of the product, allowed for a smooth process.

Since there was no crane on site, once the helicopter dropped off the material, trees and pulleys were used to get the logs lifted into position. Because of the challenges of constructing a log cabin in such a remote location, the precise fit and quality craftsmanship was a huge benefit.

Log home being built with a man on scaffolding.

Proposal, Design, Delivery & Construction - A Successful Bear Paw Custom Cabin Project

There is little flexibility when choosing a custom log home builder to partner with the Sequoia National Park. The administration was reassured when Caribou Creek was described as a reputable company by their competitors. The experience during the proposal, design, delivery, and construction of the Bear Paw Cabin project confirmed this as fact.

The one thing that stood out the most to the staff of the park was how the logs of the cabin all slipped into place without any difficulty. It was wonderful and all the pieces tightened up together well. Having to build a custom log home where everything has to be flown in by helicopter can be daunting, to say the least. Therefore, the organization and clear layout of the logs was incredibly helpful. We made sure the truck was loaded strategically with the logs that were needed first, loaded last (so they were first off the truck). This might seem like a small detail but it can make all the difference in the world. 

Working with limited space in a public park, as well as coordinating helicopter loads, made this project challenging. With our long-time expertise and experience, we were able to bring peace of mind to the National Park.

An Ongoing Project: To be Completed Summer 2019

While some interior finishing is still required, we’re happy to say the Sequoia National Park is extremely satisfied with the look and durability of the cabin. We love when our clients are pleased with the ease of the process from beginning to end.

We’ve been told that as the project nears completion, visitors walk along the trail and often ask about the log cabin builder. This makes us smile. Now as hikers trek the High Sierra Trail, they can enjoy the beauty of this remote area log home build. The sturdy logs of the Bear Paw Cabin offers a place of rest surrounded by the majestic forest wilderness.

We are looking forward to returning to Sequoia National Park in the Summer of 2019 when we’ll complete the project. It’s our hope that park visitors will enjoy this log cabin resort for years to come.