My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Hiking with History on Kodiak Island

2009/11/19by Donna Hull

Updated 06.15.2013

hiking cruise excursion on Kodiak Island, Alaska

The start of the Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park nature walk on Kodiak Island.

Will you be traveling to Kodiak Island on your next cruise in Alaska? Here’s a cruise excursion that will satisfy any active traveler. Photographers, nature lovers and history fans will enjoy it too.

When Alan and I visited Kodiak Island while on a 52-day cruise with Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner, “The Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park Nature Walk” excursion gave us a chance to stretch our legs. Arriving at the trailhead via school bus, we embarked on a 1.5-mile journey that meandered through a Sitka spruce forest to a coastal view. Although the cruise tour desk brochure called it a walk, it felt like a short, easy hike to me. And my lightweight Kuru hiking shoes made for sure footing along the sometimes muddy trail.

Taking a cruise and having a hard time choosing between all of the excursion options? Check out our favorite experiences from cruise excursions around the world!

During the guided tour, a park naturalist pointed out World War II bunkers located along the trail. Taking a short spur to enter one of the lookout bunkers, we could feel the cold dampness that soldiers experienced. The sounds of crashing waves drifted into the bunker from the rocky shoreline far below us.

scenic view of Kodiak Island coast

View from the trail

As the hike traveled on a ridge line above the shore, one of our group spotted a pod of whales out in the ocean. We watched as the whales took turns blowing spouts of water into the air. A variety of seabirds flew overhead but the famous Kodiak bears remained illusive. Actually, our guide told us that the best bear sightings are in Kodiak Island National Wildlife Refuge reached only by air or chartered boat.

Visit WWII history on Kodiak Island, Alaska

Bunker at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park Nature Walk.

After passing Lake Gertrude, the hike continued to the Kodiak Military History Museum located in the ready ammunition bunker at Miller Point. The grass covered bunker is filled with both American and Japanese World War II artifacts, including uniforms, communication equipment, artillery, 1945 Willys MB Jeep and a 1942 Dodge Ambulance. The hike ended at park headquarters where we browsed the small combination book/gift store until the school bus appeared for the return ride to the pier.

While this wasn’t a taxing hike (some wouldn’t even call it a hike), we enjoyed the time spent outdoors walking in nature. The history we observed was an added bonus.

Of course you don’t need to book a cruise excursion to hike the trails in Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park.

If you are on a cruise and want to try this on your own, you’ll need transportation to and from the park. Also, the Kodiak Military History Museum is open by appointment only to WWII veterans or groups.

Have you visited Kodiak Island? Leave a comment to tell me about your experience. I want to return for a little bear watching.

A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

boomermj November 20, 2009 at 4:49 am

My sister lives on the Island of Kodiak. She has been living there for thirty years. She is a teacher who also runs a B&B called “A View of the Harbor B&B” You can see some photos here


Donna Hull
November 20, 2009 at 8:23 am

Lodging's not that easy to find on Kodiak Island. This looks like a comfortable place to stay. I'll keep it in mind. Thanks!


marthaandme November 20, 2009 at 8:41 am

It looks lovely. I do hope to go to Alaska someday and will put this on the list!


Mark H November 24, 2009 at 12:20 am

I saw large brown bears from a small boat on Kodiak Island but never landed. From my tiny view, I was impressed with the amount of trees on the island – it looked quite a wilderness reserve.


holeinthedonut November 24, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I learned something Donna. Always knew we had coastwatchers on the east and west coast of the continental US during WWII – did not know we had bunkers in Alaska. Makes sense, though. Nice article!


Donna Hull
November 26, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Barbara, did you know that the Japanese occupied American soil during WWII in the Aleutian Islands? I'll be writing about it soon when I post about my visit to Dutch Harbor, Alaska..


Donna Hull
November 26, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Mark, it's a beautiful area of the world, although COLD in the winter.


Donna Hull
November 27, 2009 at 2:53 am

Barbara, did you know that the Japanese occupied American soil during WWII in the Aleutian Islands? I'll be writing about it soon when I post about my visit to Dutch Harbor, Alaska..


Bruce Hauser March 5, 2014 at 6:53 pm

My family and I were stationed on Kodiak 1970-72 and loved it. One daughter was born there. We took her back about five years ago. Although we have seen most of Alaska, Kodiak is our favorite. For history buffs, there is a book about World War II in the Aleutions is called “The thousand mile war”.
Bruce Hauser


Donna Hull
November 27, 2009 at 2:54 am

Mark, it's a beautiful area of the world, although COLD in the winter.


Shanna Schultz
October 28, 2012 at 12:13 pm

We are lucky to have some friends that are living on Kodiak and they took us out to this park last time we visited. I had never realized that Alaska had so much World War II history tied to it! Alaska was a very strategic point during the war, and there were a lot of coastal defenses up there. It is a beautiful place to visit for a hike or a picnic!
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Charli l Wanderlusters June 19, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Great piece Donna. That coastline is just so rugged. It looks like something from a fantasy film. What an incredibly fascinating place to visit.
Charli l Wanderlusters recently posted..Limitless Travel | Anything Is PossibleMy Profile


Tim Horgan June 30, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Alaska is proper wilderness. I though have always had more of a thing for the Yukon. I don’t know why…
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