Backpack the Caines Head Coastal Trail
Alaska › Miller's Landing
Added by Tori Klotz
This hike provides the views of your dreams, including rugged mountains, great wildlife (especially birds), and takes you through multiple highly differing ecosystems.
This hike begins near a family friendly visiting area, good bathrooms, and well kept parking lot. You will start out on a gravel path, which seems like it was created for horses, for about 1.5 miles until the path opens up to views of the ocean, mountains, and a bridge leading you over a river and into the forest. The forest contains tall trees with eerie sphagnum moss - I felt like I was in a Tolkien book.
Once you reached the shore, the rest of the hike to Caines Head is on a black shale rock shore - you HAVE to time correctly to avoid the rise of the tide. The tide tables can be found here.
At the end of the hike, you are positioned 650' higher than where you started, provided with a great lunch spot that can be compared to a large fire circle or amphitheater, and a tour of Fort McGivern, an old World War II fort.
- Tide Tables
- Hiking Poles for the difficult shale
- Water Bottles
- Tents and all camping gear for staying overnight if you choose to do so
- Bear Spray
- Binoculars for wildlife
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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking
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The Caines Head Rec area is truly a hidden gem. It's like the land that time never touched. Definitely take time to study the tides and plan your trip around them, though in a pinch you can take a water taxi (the trailhead at north beach has numbers, in case you need them). North beach can be a bit crowded, and if you don't mind tacking on a few extra miles to your hike, camping at south beach is well worth the effort. If you've got time, hike up the alpine trail, as well. The trail itself is rarely used and marked by pink tape - I'll openly admit, we lost the trail once or twice, but found the pink tape again within a couple minutes. You'll do a bit of bushwacking to follow the trail, but the views from the alpine tundra on a clear day are absolutely breathtaking. Would absolutely recommend any of the hikes in this area. Do bring bear spray, though bear tracks and scat are common, we made lots of noise and took proper precautions, so never spotted any bears.
This hike is beautiful. You'll need to make sure and time it right with the tides or else you will be stuck waiting. Most people make this a over night trip due to the tide gap. Be aware that there is very little firewood and the wind can really pick up on South Beach. The old bunkers are amazing, bring a head lamp
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