One of the amazing things about Unalaska is that you can still experience its charms and challenges the same way people have done for thousands of years, just by hiking out into the tundra, away from the sounds of modern machinery and conveniences of motorized transportation.
Like other trails over to Beaver Inlet (such as Ugadaga and Peace of Mind), the Agamgik Bay trail will take you on long set-in pathways, over varied terrain, with picturesque views all around.
The Agamgik Bay trek is a bit longer than the others, has some difficult spots not easy for the very young or the very old, and offers access to an even longer hike over to English Bay, where Captain Cook arrived in 1778. As a longer, more difficult trail, it is also less frequented, a bonus for those who yearn for a more solitary journey.
This also means that you should prepare well for the trip - with plenty of food and water, warm layers and rain gear. Bring your camera too. While photos won’t do it justice, they’ll help you recall the journey and the feeling of being connected to the land in a tradition going back generations.
Agamgik Bay trail begins on an old military road - built in the 1940s along a route already well-established by the native Unangan people. Once the road fades away, cut off into the hillside on your left. About ¾ of a mile in, you’ll come to a steep gorge that used to be spanned by a military bridge. Now that the bridge is gone, Agamgik Bay travelers must climb into the gorge and back out again on the other side. This is the most difficult part of the hike and requires care.
From here, you can take a route through the lower elevations or climb higher to traverse the rolling tundra. The first option is easier going; the second provides a better panoramic view as you reach Agamgik Bay.
Flora and fauna are abundant on this journey. Stands of yarrow, geranium and wormwood provide color to the emerald green landscape, and were important healing plants for the Unangan people. Take a break on the cushiony tundra to enjoy a visit from a melodic Lapland longspur, inspect the club moss or crowberry bushes, identify wildflowers like orchids, iris and honeysuckle, or quietly watch ground squirrels or fox.
Before you descend to the rocky beach, enjoy the view of the Beaver Inlet and Agamgik Bay set against a backdrop of towering mountains. As you descend for more exploration, lose yourself in the chest-high stands of undulating wild rye grass that line the beach. These grasses were also an important harvest material for the Unangan people, who used them for intricately woven baskets. You can find examples of these at the Museum of the Aleutians.
As you wander along the beach, keep an eye out for salmon jumping in the bay, logs and driftwood tossed up by sea storms, agates, and maybe even Japanese glass floats that were once used in fishing nets and are now collectors’ items.
- Buy a land use permit (available in daily, weekly, seasonal or annual passes) from the Ounalashka Corporation before heading out.
- Let someone know when you are heading out on Agamgik Bay trail and when you expect to return.
- This trail is semi-rough in spots, so take your time and watch your footing (ground squirrel holes, leftover WWII stakes and a small ravine are some of the potential trip-ups).