Caines Head State Recreation Area is the scenic site of an abandoned World War II fort, can be reached by boat or foot from Seward. The massive headland rises 650 feet above Resurrection Bay, against a back drop of rolling alpine meadows and sharp peaks, giving way to a sweeping view of the North Pacific Ocean. The shale covered, forest framed beaches of Caines Head have long been stopping points for boaters and fisherman. But early in World War II, as the territory of Alaska was attacked and occupied by Imperial Japanese ground forces, Caines Head and other Resurrection Bay vantages became strategic spots for defending the Port of Seward. The port was the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad, a critical supply line for the war effort and for Alaskans. The 4.5 mile coastal trail leads from Lowell Point to the recreation area, ending at North Beach. A portion of this trail can be hiked only at low tide. Historic trails following old army roads take hikers to Fort McGilvray and on to South Beach.
Erin M. on Caines Head
Beautiful! One of my favorites in Seward.
Great hike with lots of opportunity to enjoy gorgeous views along the way. I did this hike with my little dog back in July when the salmon were spawning and saw quite a few making their way upstream. Blueberries were just getting ripe and the trail had enough ups and downs to make it interesting yet not TOO challenging (although the first part, which is also the last part on the return trip, is a long slow decline/incline and not very "exciting" but don't give up!). Even if it's high tide hiking to Tonsina point and turning around is still worth it.
We did this a couple times years back when we still lived in AK. You do have to time your trip so that you pass the rocky shoreline at low tide. Note that the low must be 2' or less or you are going to get wet. There is a pretty good climb up to the "Head" where the old bunkers are. From there you can hike another mile or so down to the cove on the backside of Cain's Hd. If you do get stuck out there you can call either by cell ph if you have service or vhf radio to a water taxi back in Seward. We discovered that on our first trip :0
There are a few ways to do this trail. Because part of it is coastal and is submerged during high tide, you can either hike, spend the night in a tent, and then return next low tide, or you can kayak from Lowell Point to Caine's Head and pick up the trail there. The end of the trail is at the remains of a WWII fun battery, Fort McGilvray.
Did this hike with my cousins two springs ago - it was so fun. We didn't time it perfectly so that we ended up at the end, however, we all made a pact to finish it someday. It started raining on us half way through. Plan accordingly - plan to backpack and stay the night - bring the right gear - and follow the tidal warning! Even if we didn't "finish" it like we wanted, it had the most amazing views ever and was a fun day.
The hike to Caines Head is a beautiful woodland/waterland interface full of wildlife and beautiful vistas. I have hiked and paddled to the park. To get there you drive south from Seward and park in a trailhead parkinglot near Lowell Point. The trailhead begins right there out of the parkinglot and winds through the woods for a few miles.
The tricky part of the trail is the beach zone where the trail follows along the rocky seashore. Make sure to check a tide chart for the crossing about an hour into your hike. http://www.tides4fishing.com/us/southcentral-alaska/seward. Much of the trail can avoid the beach but there is one spot where elevation forces you out on to the beach.
Once when the tides were not lining up at a reasonable time my wife and I decided to kayak out the five miles to the camp area. Our friends walked it. The tides were extreme low at 5am and small low a 5pm. So they made it out at a reasonable time (being summer and lots of light) but the next morning they did not get up early enough to make the morning tide. We all left the camp site around 11am and my wife and I paddled out in the fog and two foot swells. Our friends got caught at the water crossing and had to spend the day on the shore waiting for the low tide. I finally heard from them that they made it back to Anchorage at 9pm. CHECK THE TIDES before hiking this trail.
The World War II batteries are really neat to explore and photograph.
Great trail, well maintained with lots of variation and terrain. There are a few different camping sites and places of interest on this trail including an old military site. You must cross a long section at low tide so make sure to plan accordingly. We typically do this one in the summer from late May to July. Highly recommend this one for overnight trips!