Hiking Inside Fort McGilvray

  • Self Guided

Fort McGilvray is the scenic site of an abandoned World War II fort with two beaches to walk from.

Explore History of Fort McGilvray 

The massive headland rises 650 feet above Resurrection Bay, against a backdrop of rolling alpine meadows and sharp peaks, giving way to a sweeping view of the Gulf of Alaska and the outer islands.

The shale covered, forest framed beaches of Caine’s Head have long been stopping points for boaters and fishermen. But early in World War II, as the territory of Alaska was attacked and occupied by Imperial Japanese ground forces, Caine’s Head and other Resurrection Bay vantages became strategic spots for defending the Port of Seward.

Visitors are invited to explore the remains of Fort McGilvary, the South Beach Garrison and the many natural attractions of this 6,000 acre state recreational area.
If your schedule does not allow time to hike the 5 mile coastal trail to Caine’s Head, or the low tides are not accommodating you on the days you want to hike, the Miller’s Landing Water Taxi can take you to the North Beach of Caine’s Head. From there, you can hike to Fort McGilvary and also to the South Beach of Caine’s Head for a most enjoyable hike.

At North Beach there are 2 picnic shelters, campsites, and latrines near the main trail at the North Beach. A ranger station, staffed seasonally, is located near the north end of the beach. The Derby Cove Public Use Cabin is near the beach at Derby Cove, which is the next beach north of the ranger station and campsites.
The trail to Fort McGilvray and South Beach starts here. It is 2 1/2 miles to both places from North Beach, and is the same trail for the first mile and a half, then it splits so it is another mile from that point to either the fort or South Beach.

From the North Beach to the fort is 2½ miles or 5 miles round trip.

From North Beach, historic roadbeds lead to Fort McGilvray and South Beach. To reach the fort and sweeping vistas of the bay, take the left fork, one mile south of the North Beach Trailhead. Along the way, explore the remains of the old ammunitions magazines and the bog meadows with their unique forms of plant life. The right fork leads 1.5 miles to South Beach.

Fort McGilvray, once the strategic command center, is perched on a 650 foot rocky cliff that offers dramatic views of Resurrection Bay. Here are the firing platforms of the two six-inch guns that once sat ready to defend the Port of Seward. The fort is open to explore, but take a flashlight to find your way through the maze of underground passages and rooms. The cliffs around the fort are dangerous. Stay on the concrete pads and trails.

From the North Beach to the South Beach is also 2½ or 5 miles round trip. To do both is a 7 mile round trip.

To get dropped off by taxi and hike from Tonsina to the Fort and South Beach and get picked up again at North beach is the same number of miles as hiking from Lowell Point to North Beach and back, but the first hike only does the best part of the hikes.

South Beach is a garrison ghost town with remains of the utility buildings and barracks that were home for the 500 soldiers stationed here from July 1941 to May 1943. These structures are not safe. Do not walk on or disturb them.

To get to Caine’s Head, you can either hike the 5 mile coastal hike there (see hiking Caine’s Head section) or you can take the Miller’s Landing water taxi.

Taking the Miller’s Landing Water Taxi…. If the tides are too high to walk the trail in the morning or they are too late in the evening for an enjoyable round trip hike, or perhaps you only want to hike one way only, you can still get to Caine’s Head by water taxi.

Cancellations & Rescheduling

  • Chevron down Cancellation Policy
    • A $10 cancellation fee is imposed for all reservations cancelled.
    • Cancellations must be received by email only to [email protected] The cancellation notice date is the date the email was received at [email protected]  Phone cancellations will not be accepted.
    • Cancellations received by email 30 days prior to the first day of the reservation are charged a $10 cancellation fee and you will receive a refund of 90% of the total amount of the reservation.
    • Cancellations received by email 15 to 29  days prior to the first day of the reservation are charged a $10 cancellation charge and you will receive a 75% refund. of the total amount of the reservation.
    • Cancellations received by email 14 days to zero days prior to arrival are charged a $10 cancellation fee and you will receive a 50% refund only if we are able to rebook  your camping, cabin, fishing, kayaking, watertaxi, shuttle, lunch, or activity. If we are not able to rebook your reservation then no refunds will be issued and. You must call or e-mail Miller’s Landing post date of cancelled stay in order for us to research whether or not your site booked. Sites that were booked of course qualify for the 50% refund, sites that were not unfortunately do not.
    • In some situations a raincheck worth 75% of your reservation may be issued at the discretion of Miller’s Landing management instead of the applicable cancellation charge. If this option appeals to you please suggest this at the time of cancellation. Rainchecks are good for one year and may be used for activities, camping or lodging owned by Miller’s Landing or towards the cost of hats, tee shirts, gifts, etc. sold in the Miller’s Landing store or items sold online. For items purchased online the customer is expected to pay for the cost of postage. Rainchecks may NOT be transferred to another person.
    • A 100% refund will be issued for any activity that was cancelled due to weather by Miller’s Landing. Miller’s Landing reserves the right to determine weather cancellations. Rain does not constitute cancellations.

    Please note:  Miller’s Landing encourages only guaranteed prepaid reservations. Unlike many other states, Alaska has  a very short tourist season which can make it  difficult for us to rebook when we have cancellations without ample notice.  

    If you are booking a charter and lodging and your charter , water taxi or kayaking is cancelled due to weather you are still responsible for the lodging or camping reservations and the normal cancellation policy applies. All of our activities are possible during rain, so rain does not constitute a cancellation.  Miller’s Landing is not responsible for vehicle break downs, personal emergencies, flight delays,  health issues or other unforeseen hardships.  We will try very hard to work with you but the cancellation policy will need to be applied  if we cannot issue a raincheck or find an alternative solution that appeals to both parties.

    Please understand that Miller’s Landing also incurs a hefty financial merchant fee from our bank  for the cost of charging your credit card and again for the cost of refunding it, and there is also a cost involved for the time involved in processing and refunding your reservation in employee costs. Our goal when taking your reservation is to have a solid, guaranteed prepaid reservation. We strongly discourage the practice of making reservations without having an airline ticket or making tentative reservations.  Thank you for your understanding.