Caines Head Trail is a 14 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Seward, Alaska that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 14.0 miles Elevation Gain: 4,796 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

snowshoeing

beach

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

SAFETY NOTE: It is important to time your trip around the tides. The three mile stretch of beach between Tonsina Point and North Beach can be hiked only during a tide of +3 or lower. Leave the trail head at two hours before a +3 tide to avoid becoming stranded along the way.

hiking
21 days ago

Was looking forward to the overnight trip, but a bear wouldn’t leave us alone the earlier part of the trail. Glad my camping buddy was carrying .460 S&W, but a warning shot still didn’t keep the bear from advancing. Not bad for a 3rd date.

hiking
rocky
22 days ago

Fantastic trail! Absolutely breathtaking scenery all around, really enjoyed the hike.

backpacking
rocky
27 days ago

hiking
8 months ago

I took the a water taxi to derby cove/north beach. then we walked to south beach without going to the fort. after we took the loop trail almost to the top of the alpine trail and then took the rest of the loop trail to north beach. alpine was slightly overgrown.

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful trail. We didn’t go all the way. We just hiked one hour and we went through a beautiful forest, cross a couple of bridges and saw salmon. We ended up by the beach and then came back.

hiking
9 months ago

We only hiked to the second bridge across Tonsina creek then took the beach back to the first bridge. We saw salmon in late August under the bridge then a black bear on our way back!

hiking
9 months ago

We kayaked 5 miles to the cove and started the hike there, so we did not have to worry about the tide. The kayaking was beautiful and enjoyable. There is a couple of pit toilets there but not much else. The fort was fun to explore and we made it to the other side of the fort to see spectacular views of resurrection bay. We ate many berries along the hike! Kayaked back to seward and called it a day after about 8 hours of activity! A great day.

hiking
9 months ago

Took the water taxi to the north beach of Caine’s head. Then did the loop from there to the fort to the south beach and back. Great hike of about 6 miles with amazing views of resurrection bay

hiking
9 months ago

Loved this hike! Be aware of tide you might get stuck for a little bit waiting for the tide to go out. When I got back to my tent a black bear had ripped into it and was still around not bothered by the five people yelling at it to back off so we packed up and left that night we camped at Tosina point.

hiking
9 months ago

Backpacked this trail two summers ago, definitely recommend staying a night so you have time to go up and check out the old fort, then you can take a water taxi back out the next day or wait for low tide again. One of my favorite trails of all time. You have the ocean, you have mountains, and you have a piece of history to freely explore.

hiking
10 months ago

Hiked at +3.5 & +3.9, definitely doable but some super slippery rocks that forced us to walk around in the water. The Callisto Cabin is 10/10 - plenty of supplies, nice and warm at night, the outhouse was well maintained. I’d recommend rain boots of some sort, especially if you’re hiking above a -3. tide. Overall, amazing!

hiking
10 months ago

We just did first part of the trail. Great fishing spot.

hiking
Tue Mar 19 2019

it's a nice and relatively easy hike down to the shore. look for the public use warming cabin...it's a cool little spot.

MUST FOLLOW TIDE TABLES!!!!! Seriously. I’m the type that tries to follow the recommendation to leave a couple hours before low tide, but I’m not going to be crazy about it. That was a terrible mistake for this hike. If you hit the one edge at any time other than absolute low tide, be prepared to end up in the ocean. We nearly lost a pup to the crazy waves that we had to wade through up to our waists. You can try to climb and stay on the rocks, but they are so covered in slimy algae that it’s nearly impossible. All that said, I LOVE this hike and strongly suggest it. Just watch your timing!

Sun Sep 23 2018

Beautiful scenery & very well maintained trail! Easy hike. Take your kids they should be able to complete it. However be careful. We Crossed paths with a hungry bear (just a black bear which poses little threat to humans) eating salmon in the river the trail runs through.

hiking
Fri Jun 22 2018

Loved this trail, we only made it to Tonsina Creek, we turned out on to the beach and walked until the tide came in. The trail is very well maintained and has pathways and steps in place to help.

hiking
Thu Jun 21 2018

Moderate difficulty, amazing views. Will absolutely be back

hiking
Mon Oct 30 2017

Starts out real easy, on pretty much a road that a jeep could do without a problem. You'll pass by a few really amazing areas where it might be fun to camp just to listen to the ocean all night long on a cliff bluff underneath some of those big tall beautiful green mossy trees. Then you'll gently descend down some switchbacks as you get closer to the beach, cross over a big bridge and pass on through the camping area. Since it is the winter, I helped myself to a little bit of chopped wood and warmed myself in the fire, well that is, after I returned from walking along the beach. I made a mistake as I timed it so that I would be walking through right as the tide was the lowest, but I'm so slow that it was maybe 45 minutes after the lowest point. So what you should do is try to hit it as the tide is NOT at it's lowest but maybe halfway there, then it will be getting better as you go. So as it was, I was scared about getting trapped like a rat on the other side, and it was already scary in some points with the treacherous smooth slippery icy rocks, it was like the land was trying to push me into the cold icy ocean at certain points. So I made it about 2 miles along the beach before turning back around, my only friend being a harbor seal who was following me along the coast, probably waiting for me to get swept into the ocean so that he could have an easy meal. The million long thin grey rocks are a pain in the butt to walk on top off too. But anyway, it was beautiful because it was snowing the whole time, a little cloudy but still had nice views, plus on the way back I found a big angry noisy ferret in the tree. Someone told me it was a marten when they saw the picture. Anyway, maybe I'll do the entire trail and update this review, but since I did most of it, that's enough for a review. Pretty easy trail, blahblahblah about the tides, and you can even have yourself a nice little rest at the camp area with a bench. Plus they're building a really nice cabin so maybe you can do that too, but I'm sure that people will always have it rented once it's available because people just love cabins.

hiking
Mon Jul 10 2017

Absolutely beautiful hike. We got lucky with the tide, but make sure you check it. We ran into people that had to spend the night without gear because they got stuck. Also, the way back on the rocks can be kind of brutal, but it's work it. You can cut a good chunk of the beach walking out, and risk of getting stuck, if you do a kayak tour.

Tue Jun 27 2017

Beautiful and accessible. Great trail

backpacking
Sun Apr 23 2017

This was a very enjoyable backpacking trip with a group of ladies! Timing the beach walk is the key. You have to hit the tide just right so you are not stuck up against the rocky cliffs. We hiked out to the first camp corundum and stayed the night there. The next morning we climbed up to the old fort and down the other side to the beach on the other side. That beach was magical! While sitting on the beach and resting our legs we were treated to whales breaching and playing in the water right in front of us! We completed the loop (and getting lost at some point where the trail was grown over) and went back to camp for the night. The next day we timed the tides and hiked back. I would definitely do this hike again!

Thu Sep 08 2016

Great view at the top!

Sat Jul 23 2016

Beautiful! One of my favorites in Seward.

hiking
Mon Dec 14 2015

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.

hiking
Thu Jul 30 2015

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

paddle sports
Tue Jul 07 2015

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.

hiking
Mon Mar 17 2014

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.

Mon Oct 14 2013

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.

Fri Aug 23 2013

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!

hiking
1 day ago

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