Hiking Tonsina Trail towards Lowell Point, Seward


Just outside of Seward, there’s a great trail that can offer a couple of hours of hiking, or an adventure that lasts a couple of days.  Tonsina Point is only about two miles from the trailhead, while Caines Head is a little over seven miles — and part of the way can only be hiked during low tide, which means an overnight stay is recommended.  I didn’t have time for a long hike — in fact, I didn’t get started until around 8 p.m. on a late-spring day — so I just did the hike out to Tonsina Point and back.  And despite gloomy weather, it was a nice hike with great views of Resurrection Bay.


From Seward, drive south out of town on the only dirt road available.  You’ll squeeze past some fishing operations, then drive alongside Resurrection Bay until you arrive at Lowell Point.  Near the end, the road makes a left turn to head towards the waterfront.  Make this turn, then immediately turn right onto Pinnacle View Road.  You’ll see the trailhead on the right.

My Visit

I spent most of my day on a scenic cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park.  Thanks to rough seas, it was exhausting.  After I regained my land legs and rested, I realized that I could still squeeze in a short hike before the end of a very long Alaskan day (the sun doesn’t set until around 11 p.m. in late spring and early summer in Seward).  I figured I had plenty of time to hike the fairly easy trail out to Tonsina Point and back.


The trail has a very uneventful beginning.  It starts near Lowell Point, south of Seward, and immediately plunges into the woods.


The path is gravel, and there’s only a slight elevation gain and drop along the way.


The trail meets up with a private road, which then splits off.  The march through the woods continues for about a mile and a half, with no scenery along the way, other than trees.  Then, you reach the upper end of Tonsina Point.


Tonsina Creek splits in two, shortly before flowing out into Resurrection Bay.  Tonsina Point is in between the two bridges that cross the creek.


Walk over the first bridge and hang a left…


… and you’re headed out onto the point.  There’s a trail that circles out to the water and back.


Out on Tonsina Point, you’ll find lots of old stumps and tree trunks that have been tossed in the water and deposited on the gravely beach.


You might even find some wildflowers blooming out here.


I’m sure it would be much nicer with blue skies overhead, but even in the typical Alaskan gloom, it was still quite nice.


Once I made my way around the point and over to the other creek outlet, the trail was more faint.  I had to push my way through some brush to rejoin the trail…


… at the second bridge.  Then…


… it was time to head back into the woods.  Sometime between taking that picture…


…and this one, I got that feeling that I wasn’t alone in the woods.  That feeling can be especially creepy when you’re hiking on a cloudy day, well after 9 o’clock at night.  It’s even creepier when you hear a very clear snorting sound from behind you.

I turned around and spotted a pretty good sized black bear, perhaps 50 yards behind me.   He was off the trail by about 30 degrees from where I stood — but that just means that a minute earlier, I was much closer to him than I was now.  I reached for my bear spray (which, for the first time, I had decided to purchase on this trip) and announced myself as a foul-tasting human who would be of no interest to him.  Then, I walked backwards for a while, which is not an easy thing to do in the woods.  The bear showed no interest in following me, which was a very good thing.  I kept the bear spray in-hand for the rest of the hike, knowing that I really shouldn’t have been out in the wilderness this late at night — even if the sun was still up.


I took just a few more pictures on the way back.  It’s funny how running into a bear in the woods can take your interest away from just about everything else.  At this point, I was anxious to call it a day.  I had gone on a boat.  I had gone on a hike.  I saw a bear.  I was done.

Be aware, there is a fee for parking at the Tonsina Point/Caines Head trailhead. It’s $5 per day, if I recall correctly.

The Bottom Line

The hike to Tonsina Point is fairly easy, and you can knock it out in a couple of hours — but you should add some extra time for enjoying the views of Resurrection Bay from the point.  If you’re venturing on to Caines Head, make sure you understand the tide schedule (for hiking in both directions).

Drivelapse Video

Here’s a time-lapse look at the drive through Seward and out to Lowell Point and back:

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