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Hiking Inside Fort McGilvray


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.