Mt. Ballyhoo is a lure for hikers wanting a moderate climb and an outstanding vista. Both the airport and city dock are located right at its base, so the south face of Ballyhoo is the first thing you’ll notice when you get here. Its 1,634-foot-peak is the highest point on Amaknak Island, with a panoramic view that helps orient you to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor geography.
The south approach is a popular hike and supplies the best established route for all skill levels, as repeated expeditions to the top primarily maintain the 2-mile trail.
Navy tradition requires new visitors to grab a full pack of gear and run to the summit, with some holding true to this arduous task. Local runners also compete each year in the Ballyhoo Mountain Run (no pack required!). The fastest finish recorded in recent history is an amazing 24 minutes. However, most hikers find a leisurely walk with a quart of water much more enjoyable.
Regardless of your approach, there’s plenty to see along the way. Wildflowers abound in late spring and early summer. In late summer and autumn, some plants can grow up tall enough to block your ability to see your own feet.
World War II remnants, including old buildings and bunker entrances are visible and easily discovered along the lower slopes – and are often occupied by ptarmigan, fox and ground squirrels. You will likely see eagles or ravens, too. Use caution when exploring these areas. Watch for rusty nails, collapsed tunnels and fox holes. Eagles and ravens may swoop near you to warn you away from a nesting site.
- North – Unalaska Bay
- South – Airport, Captains Bay
- East – Dutch Harbor spit juts out from Amaknak Island into Iliuliuk Bay. The water inside the spit is Dutch Harbor.
- West – Hog Island, Broad Bay, Nateekin Bay, Makushin Volcano on a clear day (toward the west horizon)
- Dress in layers, as fog or rain can roll in unexpectedly.
- Carry a basic day-pack and a quart of water.
- Before you head up, get a recreational land use permit from the Ounalashka Corporation.
- It may be tempting, but leave behind any “souvenirs,” including natural items (such as eagle feathers) and WWII relics. This is private property and a National Historic Area, so collecting is illegal.
- Pack out your own items, including trash.