The mild stroll around Strawberry Hill offers great views, wildlife and some historic flavor. Old military roads cover the area, providing easy walking. Adventurers can bushwhack or scramble short distances for better views of the surrounding area or get up close to WWII-era trenches and the remains of old bunkers.
From here you have a good perspective for envisioning how Amaknak Island's Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and Fort Mears were laid out in the mid-1940s. These two facilities were the only U.S. defenses in the Aleutian Islands at the start of World War II. The Japanese attack on Dutch Harbor in June 1942 focused in on this area, with bombs landing on Strawberry Hill, Biorka Drive and the old storage tank farm at the base of the bluff (along with Fort Mears and other locations further north). The red building on the east side of Strawberry Hill served as an apartment house for naval radio station operators and was the only brick building on the Aleutians for many years. (During the war, it was camouflaged with olive-drab paint and received only minor damage during the bombing.)
Ground squirrels populate Strawberry Hill, to the delight of children and dogs – so watch out for their holes. Eagles also nest here and have been known to swoop in if you’re too close. Birders can view many species on Strawberry Hill and at nearby Sitka Spruce Park (a national historic landmark with trees originally planted by Russians in 1805).
The top of Strawberry Hill is fairly level and is a great spot for picnicking, so pack some food and plan to enjoy the view for awhile.
- Before you hike, get a recreational land use permit from the land-owner, Ounalashka Corporation.
- Be watchful for hazards if you explore military remnants. Most of the boards and bunker debris still have nails.
- It may be tempting, but leave behind any “souvenirs,” including natural items (such as eagle feathers) and WWII relics. This is private property; collecting is illegal.
- Be sure to pack out your items, including trash.