Kenai Fjords Marine Guidebook

Exploring Alaska's Kenai Fjords by David Wm. Miller

Comprehensive Marine Guidebook

Caines Head State Recreation Area (Resurrection Bay)

Public Park Lands

Special Destinations

Access to the Fjords

Lodging & Activties

Caines Head Shoreline Trail MapCaines Head

Caines Head lies 7 nm southwest of Seward. The headland stands out as a steep bluff, 650 feet high, along Resurrection Bay's western shore. It was named in 1905 for Captain E.E. Caines, the president of the Alaska Pacific Navigation Company. Day visitors or overnight campers have several ways to reach Caines Head. Many visitors save time by catching a water taxi from Miller's Landing to North Beach, while others kayak or hike the Caines Head Shoreline Trail.

Caines Head Shoreline Trail 

"The shoreline trail begins at the upper parking lot of the Lowell Point State Recreation Site. The shoreline portion of the trail is only passable on a plus 5-foot tide or lower. Hikers are advised to leave two hours before low water. Consult a tide table for time and tide information. It's 1.5 miles from the trail head to Tonsina Point. The trail follows a hillside road with switchbacks that descend to Tonsina Point. The trail then follows the shoreline from milepost 2 to 4.25. A Caines Head State Recreation Public Use Cabin (PUC) is located adjacent the trail at Callisto Canyon milepost 3.5, and another PUC is in the woods at Derby Cove milepost 4.25. Reservations are required for both cabins. At North Beach (Army Dock) (milepost 4.75) the trail climbs upward to the Caines Head bluff where visitors can investigate the ruins of Fort McGilvray. Along the way, approximately one mile south of North Beach, an intersecting trail leads southwest for 1.5 miles and descends to a former garrison, now ruins, built in the woods at South Beach."

Caines Head State Recreation Area

"The Caines Head State Recreation Area is a somewhat overgrown showcase for the Seward Harbor Defense network constructed by the Army during the early stages of World War II. Fort McGilvray, built atop Caines Head, was a 6-inch gun battery designed to sink enemy ships entering Resurrection Bay. Other gun batteries were located on Rugged Island. Today, the fort with its deserted hallways and rusted gun platforms is part of the 5,961-acre Caines Head State Recreation Area. The fort is open to the public, but bring a flashlight if you plan to explore the concrete structures. The metal-skin quonset huts and wooden garrison buildings lie flattened by heavy snow and appear to be melting into the wilderness landscape. Camping is encouraged in the Caines Head State Recreation Area; however, camp fires are restricted to the beach. There is a toilet and a bulletin board near the trail at both North and South beach."

North Beach

Army Dock at North Beach

"North Beach is a pocket beach along the shore of Caines Head. It is easy to identify from the ruins of the Army supply dock erected in 1941. The old pilings are unstable and should be avoided. A state park ranger cabin located on the hillside above the beach has maps and information. There also is a covered picnic shelter in the woods where stands of old growth Sitka spruce and mountain hemlock form a canopy."

South Beach

"South Beach is the last stop on the Caines Head Shoreline Trail. Hikers wishing to visit South Beach must descend the trail from Caines Head, 1.5 miles, to the beach. The trail passes near the twisted metal skeletons of former barracks and utility buildings. The area is an ideal camp location with an expansive beach and valley to explore and miles of trails weaving around Caines Head. Behind the cobbled beach berm at South Beach are layered rock outcroppings and tall eroded cliffs. Nearby, a water plume from a gushing waterfall descends the hillside. A bulletin board and a small outhouse are located near the trail’s base leading north to Caines Head."

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