This peaceful cove at the end of Summer Bay Road wasn’t always so quiet. It’s been the site of a native Unangan village, a fox farm, a cattle ranch, and also served as part of the American military coastal defense strategy during World War II.

Today Morris Cove mainly draws recreational visitors for hiking, camping and hanging out on the wide, sandy beach. It’s also a jumping off point for extended hikes on Split Top Mountain, to Constantine Bay, English Bay or Beaver Inlet.

Look carefully and you may discover signs of Morris Cove’s previous inhabitants.

Middens. The Unangan village here, recorded as Sinagyna and Imaginskoe, was gone by the late 1800s, but archeologists have found house depressions and middens that give clues to its history. This site has been recommended for a listing on the National Historic Register. (Note: Digging, disturbance or removal of any artifacts is prohibited.)

Who was Morris? Today the cove and nearby lake derive their names from Mike Morris, an immigrant from Austria who made a living fishing in the area with his Unangan wife in the early 1900s.

Foxes. The foxes you see while hiking could be descendants from those from Henry Swanson’s fox farm, started near the Morris Cove beach in the early 1940s. Swanson’s experiment didn’t last too long. He was not evacuated from the island during World War II, and instead worked as a civilian boatsman for the military, eventually letting the fox farm go.

Military remnants. Morris Cove is part of Fort Brumback, an area between Summer Bay and Morris Cove that served a strategic role for coastal defense during World War II. 300 soldiers were camped out here by 1941. You can still see remnants of the military operation – gun mounts, munitions batteries – although the Quonset huts and other buildings are mostly gone. Summer Bay Road itself was built by the military in 1942.

Horses. In the 60s and 70s a family from Montana started a cattle ranch at Morris Cove, supplying beef to local residents and barging sheep, cattle and horses to places like Kodiak and Akutan. Today a small band of feral horses roam the valley between Morris Cove and Summer Bay. They could be descendants from those at the Morris Cove ranch? No one knows for sure, but their presence is a reminder of that venture. Stallions from this herd were gelded in 2008 to control the size of the herd and its impact on the tundra and salmon habitat. People also like to find and feed the horses, which some say are friendly. Bring a carrot or apple if you happen to see them.

Getting There

Coordinates
Latitude: 53.913899
Longitude: -166.434907

Take Summer Bay Road past Summer Bay to Humpy Creek. Follow a rougher gravel road with potholes another 1.5 miles to Morris Cove. 4-wheel drive is recommended. Summer Bay Road is usually closed in winter months due to snow, so this is a summertime excursion.