For thousands of years, being able to survive in the Aleutians has depended on the ability to use what the land and sea provide. The rugged, remote and stunning landscape continues to inspire – and challenge – locals and visitors alike.
Understanding this primal connection with the land is best done by exploring on foot. Hiking the Ugadaga Trail – reportedly in use for more than 9,000 years – allows the imagination to wander, and wonder, about life here before contact with the western world.
Ugadaga Bay itself is part of Beaver Inlet. The native Unangan people who lived on the nearby island of Sedanka would put in at Ugadaga Bay for the overland trek to trade pelts for supplies. The trail was also used by the military in the 1940s to bring supplies to a communication post northeast of the trail end.
Round-trip, this trek is about 4.5 miles, making it a great excursion even if you have only half a day. Waterfalls and wildflowers greet you along the way in summer. Your hike may be longer in fall if you stop to pick the plentiful berries. Watch for nesting eagles (which will alert you if you are too close), fox, rock ptarmigans and ground squirrels.
You’ll hike downhill (from about 800 feet to sea level), traversing from the Bering Sea side of the island to the North Pacific. Ugadaga Bay, with its clear, pristine water, invites a stroll on the shore, and plenty of rock skipping.
On the way back, your hike will be all uphill. At the highest point on the trail, you may see cairns, mounds of stones placed here in honor of an Unangan elder who died here years ago. The story of that individual may be lost, but the Ugadaga Trail invites a connection to all whose feet have passed before – and you add to that history by hiking in this special place.
- Before you go, get a recreational land use permit from the Ounalashka Corporation, which owns the land.
- Dress in layers – you’ll be hiking through a valley that can be foggy and quite windy.
- Water-proof shoes or boots come in handy in the wet, slippery conditions and for traversing small streams on the way.
- Watch your footing for ground squirrel holes as well as for pointy stakes leftover from WWII. Thousands have been removed from the lands around Ugadaga Bay, Agamgik Bay and Peace of Mind trail, but some may still linger.