Ulakta Head and Fort Schwatka Trail

Elevation Gain

800 ft.



A hike to the windy, northernmost point of Amaknak Island provides a good uphill workout, a peek into World War II history, and a breathtaking panoramic vista of the Bering Sea and the islands around you.

This same view motivated the military to choose Ulakta Head on Mount Ballyhoo for a coastal battery during the 1940s, to protect the nation from Japanese invasion. Back then, more than 100 buildings sprang up on the mountainside to form coastal defense Battery 402 and Fort Schwatka, which quartered 250 servicemen. Today Ulakta Head is part of the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area. Few of the buildings have withstood the test of time and Aleutian weather. Visitors can drive or walk to what does remain of Fort Schwatka and Battery 402, and can also hike further up to the peak of Mount Ballyhoo (1,634 feet).

Wildlife is abundant on Mount Ballyhoo, and you might see fox, ground squirrels, ptarmigan, eagles and ravens. On clear days in the summer, many locals and tourists walk or drive up to Ulakta Head to watch whales spout as they migrate through in search of food.


  • Before you head up, get a recreational land use permit from the Ounalashka Corporation.
  • The Ounalashka Corporation and the National Park Service have developed this informative self-guided tour booklet on Fort Schwatka. You can also get a copy at the World War II Visitors Center.
  • Dress in layers, as fog or rain can roll in unexpectedly. It’s often windy at the top, so bring your windbreaker and hang on to your hat!
  • Carry a basic day-pack and a quart of water.
  • Bring binoculars for wildlife viewing.
  • 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.

Getting There

Ulakta Drive
Unalaska, AK 99692

Take Airport Beach Road north and turn left on Ballyhoo Road. After 1.2 miles, Ulakta Drive, a reconditioned military road, forks off and switchbacks up the hillside toward Ulakta Head. You can drive or walk the road. It’s 1.3 miles to the park orientation sign, where a fork takes you either left to old barracks or right to the Base End Station.

North fork road: At the park orientation sign, take a right and travel another .7 miles to the northwest side of Fort Schwatka to look out over Unalaska Bay. The Base End Station is the furthest point out along the north road. You can also explore a large magazine complex of Battery 402. This concrete, horseshoe shaped building housed and supplied ammunition to the 8-inch platform guns that could fire up to 22 miles away.

South fork road: Head left at the top of the park entrance road to explore barracks foundations and recreational areas. It also serves as a second trailhead to the top of Mount Ballyhoo. Get to the trailhead hiking approximately 300 feet of elevation over a distance of just over a half mile. The peak is another climb of about 600 feet.

Driving Directions