Jutting half a mile into the center of Unalaska Bay, the Dutch Harbor Spit offers a short, sea-level hike for all ages, with beach access, wildlife viewing and birding. The trail follows an old roadbed, which makes for an ideal hiking surface. You’ll want to stop frequently with a ready camera for close-up views of marine mammals on either side of the spit. Sea lions congregate in larger groups to the east. You can see them lifting their heads out of the breaking waves on Iliuliuk Bay. On the west side, sea otters frequently rest on their backs in Dutch Harbor, occasionally spotted in a “raft” floating together. Steller’s eiders and emperor geese can be seen here in winter. Visitors also find it interesting to watch fishing vessels come in and out of Dutch Harbor, the nation’s top commercial fishing port.
Birds are naturally attracted to areas where fish are being handled and processed, so birding near the docks usually turns up good results. Resident rock sandpipers, identified by their short yellow legs, forage and roost along the rocks near the water’s edge. Steller’s eiders and emperor geese can be seen here in winter.
The spit head offers a unique sea level viewpoint from the center of the bay, with the airport is to the west. Scanning right to left to the south-southwest, Bayview Avenue is seen just over 4 miles away. Look for the onion domes of Holy Ascension of Our Lord Cathedral and Pyramid Peak (just over 2000 feet above sea level). Mount Newhall arises in the southeast along the Unalaska Island coast.