Tonsina Point, Seward, Alaska: A short hike to a beautiful beach

Pausing to meditate on Tonsina Creek

This past weekend we shook off the inertia of winter, pulled out the backpacks, and went on a couple of hikes.

Sunday’s trek, to Tonsina Point on Resurrection Bay, was short, not particularly strenuous, and exceptionally beautiful.

The walk to Tonsina (about 1.5 miles one way) is actually part of the longer Caines Head Trail (which requires at least a couple of days to do properly).  Most of our hike was along an old logging path that cut through alder and old-growth spruce trees.  The trail was rocky and muddy in places, and a few fairly steep climbs left my out-of-shape Achilles aching, but overall it wasn’t a particularly challenging stretch of trail.


A colorful growth (mushrooms?) on a decaying log

For much of the time, we were above the shoreline, and occasionally we got glimpses of the bay.

Resurrection Bay, as seen from the trail

The trail ended at Tonsina Point and its rock and black-sand beach.  We emerged from the woods onto a bridge that crossed Tonsina Creek and offered a stunning view of the bay and the Kenai Mountains:



Exploring the beach.  The Kenai Mountains can be seen in the distance


Caine’s head is that dark point of land on the right.  Fox Island is in the distance (center), and the Gulf of Alaska is just beyond that

We brought our ultra-light camping chairs and sat on the beach for several hours, and it was blissful.

Don’t get me wrong; I love walking through forests, and some of my favorite hikes have been to hidden lakes and alpine meadows.  But there’s something about a beach that reaches me like no other place can.  I experience a deep peace when I’m sitting near the water.  Dale calls it my “happy place.”



After a few hours we headed home, already planning our return hike here.

Heading in the direction of home


Information about Tonsina Point and Caines Head:

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you plan to continue past Tonsina Point to Caines Head, you must check the tide tables.  The last three miles of the trail cross tidal flats that can only be traversed at low tide.

The trailhead to Tonsina Point is at the Caines Head State Recreation Area parking lot, in Lowell Point.  A state day-use fee of $5.00 is required, or you can buy the annual parking pass ($50 in 2017).

There is a picnic shelter, campground, and pit toilet in the forest near Tonsina Point.  The only water access is the creek.

Tonsina Creek was crystal-clear and lovely, and, according to signage posted at the trailhead, hikers will almost assuredly see bears when the salmon are running in the summer.