St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail In Alaska

Here is everything you need to know about the St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Alaska
  • Length: 6 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: St. Paul Island Ecosystem Conservation Office
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Not available.

The St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail is located on St. Paul Island, which is part of the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. The trail holds significant historical importance as it provides a glimpse into the island’s past and the lives of its inhabitants. St. Paul Island has a rich history dating back thousands of years, with evidence of human occupation by the Aleut people.

During the 18th century, Russian fur traders arrived on the island and established a fur seal hunting industry. The Pribilof Islands, including St. Paul Island, became a major hub for the fur trade, attracting Russian, American, and European traders. The High Bluffs Trail played a crucial role during this period as it provided access to the cliffs where fur seals would gather for breeding and molting.

In the late 19th century, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia, and the fur seal industry came under American control. The High Bluffs Trail continued to be used by fur seal hunters, who would navigate the rugged terrain to reach the cliffs and harvest the valuable fur seals. This industry brought economic prosperity to the island but also led to the decline of the fur seal population due to overhunting.

Today, the St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail serves as a reminder of the island’s historical significance and the impact of the fur seal industry. Visitors can explore the trail and witness the breathtaking views of the Bering Sea while reflecting on the island’s past. The trail stands as a testament to the resilience of the Aleut people and their ability to adapt to changing circumstances throughout history.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Northeast Point Trailhead: This is the starting point of the St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail. It is located at the northeastern tip of St. Paul Island.

2. Polovina Point Trailhead: This access point is located at Polovina Point, which is along the eastern coast of St. Paul Island.

3. Zapadni Point Trailhead: Situated at Zapadni Point, this access point provides entry to the High Bluffs Trail from the western side of St. Paul Island.

4. Otter Point Trailhead: Located at Otter Point, this access point allows hikers to join the High Bluffs Trail from the southern part of St. Paul Island.

5. Southwest Point Trailhead: This access point is situated at the southwestern tip of St. Paul Island, providing an entry point to the High Bluffs Trail from the southwest.

6. Northeast Bluffs Trailhead: This trailhead is located along the northeastern section of the High Bluffs Trail, providing an access point for hikers already on the trail.

7. Southwest Bluffs Trailhead: Situated along the southwestern section of the High Bluffs Trail, this trailhead allows hikers to join the trail from the southwest.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail.

Transportation Available

1. St. Paul Island Taxi – Local taxi service providing transportation around St. Paul Island.
2. Island Shuttle – Shuttle service offering convenient transportation options for visitors on St. Paul Island.
3. High Bluffs Trail Bike Rentals – Bike rental service for exploring the High Bluffs Trail and surrounding areas.
4. St. Paul Island Bus – Bus service operating on St. Paul Island, serving various destinations including the High Bluffs Trail.
5. Island Car Rentals – Car rental service providing vehicles for independent transportation on St. Paul Island.


The amenities available at the St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail may include:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: There might be designated parking areas or parking lots near the trailhead where visitors can park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: Depending on the regulations and policies of the trail, there may be designated camping sites available for overnight stays. It is advisable to check with the local authorities or trail management for specific information on camping.

4. Picnic Areas: There could be designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop, relax, and enjoy a meal or snacks amidst the natural surroundings.

5. Interpretive Signage: The trail may have informative signage along the way, providing visitors with details about the local flora, fauna, geology, or historical significance of the area.

6. Benches or Seating: There might be benches or seating areas strategically placed along the trail, allowing visitors to rest and take in the scenic views.

7. Trash Receptacles: To maintain cleanliness and preserve the natural environment, there may be trash receptacles available along the trail for visitors to dispose of their waste properly.

8. Information Kiosks: There could be information kiosks at the trailhead or along the trail, providing visitors with maps, brochures, or other relevant information about the trail and its surroundings.

9. Trail Markers or Signage: The trail may have markers or signage at regular intervals, guiding visitors along the designated path and ensuring they stay on track.

10. Accessibility Features: Depending on the trail’s accessibility, there may be features such as wheelchair ramps, accessible parking spaces, or paved paths to accommodate individuals with disabilities.

It is important to note that the availability of these amenities may vary, and it is recommended to check with the local authorities, visitor centers, or trail management for the most up-to-date information before visiting the St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail.

Nearby Services

1. St. Paul Island Hotel – A comfortable lodging option located near the High Bluffs Trail.
2. Island Diner – A local restaurant offering a variety of delicious meals.
3. St. Paul Island Clinic – An emergency medical facility providing healthcare services.
4. Northern Grocery – A convenient store for purchasing food and supplies.
5. St. Paul Island Volunteer Fire Department – Emergency services for fire-related incidents.
6. St. Paul Island Police Department – Local law enforcement agency ensuring safety and security.
7. St. Paul Island Airport – The nearest airport for transportation to and from the island.

St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail Difficulty Notes

The St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail offers a moderate level of difficulty for hikers. The trail consists of a well-maintained path that winds through diverse terrain, including rocky sections and steep inclines. While the trail is not overly challenging, it does require a certain level of physical fitness and endurance. Hikers should be prepared for some uphill climbs and uneven surfaces, but the breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and the opportunity to spot wildlife make the effort well worth it. Overall, the St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail provides a rewarding and enjoyable hiking experience for those seeking a moderate challenge.

Features And Attractions

The St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail offers stunning scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable attractions along the trail:

1. High Bluffs: The trail itself runs along the high bluffs, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, including the rugged coastline, crashing waves, and the vast expanse of the Bering Sea.

2. Pribilof Island’s Cliffs: As you hike along the trail, you’ll encounter the towering cliffs of Pribilof Island. These cliffs are home to numerous seabird colonies, including puffins, kittiwakes, and cormorants. Watching these birds soar and dive is a remarkable sight.

3. Seal Rookeries: St. Paul Island is known for its large population of northern fur seals. Along the trail, you may come across seal rookeries where these magnificent creatures gather, rest, and nurse their young. Observing their behavior from a distance is a unique experience.

4. Whale Watching: The waters surrounding St. Paul Island are frequented by various whale species, including gray whales, humpback whales, and orcas. From the high bluffs, you may be able to spot these majestic creatures breaching or swimming in the distance.

5. Historical Sites: St. Paul Island has a rich history, and there are several historical sites along the trail. These include remnants of World War II military installations, old Russian Orthodox churches, and abandoned buildings from the island’s past industries.

6. Arctic Foxes: The St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail is also home to a population of Arctic foxes. These small, elusive creatures can sometimes be spotted along the trail, adding to the natural beauty of the area.

7. Wildflowers and Tundra: During the summer months, the tundra along the trail comes alive with vibrant wildflowers. Lupines, fireweed, and Arctic poppies are just a few of the colorful blooms you may encounter, creating a picturesque landscape.

8. Geological Formations: The high bluffs themselves showcase fascinating geological formations, including sea caves, arches, and unique rock formations shaped by the forces of nature over time.

These are just a few of the highlights along the St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail. Exploring this trail will provide you with a memorable experience of the island’s natural beauty and rich history.

Usage Guidelines


Seasonal Information

The St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail is a breathtaking hiking trail located on St. Paul Island, Alaska. This remote and rugged island offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience, with its stunning coastal cliffs, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural history. When planning your visit to the High Bluffs Trail, it is important to consider the best times of the year to visit and any seasonal closures.

The best time to visit the St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail is during the summer months, from June to August. During this time, the weather is relatively mild, with temperatures ranging from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The island experiences long daylight hours, allowing visitors ample time to explore the trail and take in the breathtaking views. Additionally, summer is the peak breeding season for many seabirds, including puffins, auklets, and murres, making it an ideal time for birdwatching enthusiasts.

It is important to note that St. Paul Island is a remote location, and access to the High Bluffs Trail may be limited during certain times of the year. The island is primarily inhabited by the Aleut people, who rely on subsistence hunting and fishing. As a result, the trail may be closed during hunting seasons to ensure the safety of both visitors and the local community. It is recommended to check with the local authorities or visitor center for any seasonal closures or restrictions before planning your trip.

In conclusion, the St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail offers a unique and awe-inspiring hiking experience. The best time to visit is during the summer months when the weather is mild, and the island is teeming with wildlife. However, it is important to be aware of any seasonal closures or restrictions due to hunting activities. By planning your visit accordingly, you can fully enjoy the beauty and tranquility of this remote Alaskan island.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its rugged terrain and lack of designated accessible pathways.
2. Trail Surface: The trail consists of uneven surfaces, including gravel, rocks, and natural vegetation, making it challenging for wheelchair users.
3. Steep Inclines: The trail features steep inclines and declines, which may pose difficulties for individuals with mobility impairments.
4. Narrow Pathways: Some sections of the trail have narrow pathways, limiting maneuverability for individuals using wheelchairs or mobility aids.
5. Lack of Handrails: The trail does not have handrails, which may affect individuals who require additional support while walking or navigating slopes.
6. Limited Rest Areas: There are limited rest areas along the trail, potentially causing inconvenience for individuals who require frequent breaks or rest stops.
7. No Accessible Restrooms: The trail does not have accessible restroom facilities, which may pose challenges for individuals with specific accessibility needs.
8. Absence of ADA Signage: The trail lacks specific ADA signage indicating accessible features or accommodations.
9. Alternative Options: Visitors with mobility limitations may consider exploring other accessible attractions on St. Paul Island, such as the Seal Rookery Boardwalk or the Museum of the Aleutians.

Safety Information

1. Unstable cliffs: Exercise caution as the cliffs along the trail may be unstable.
2. Slippery terrain: Be aware of slippery conditions, especially during wet weather.
3. Steep inclines: Take care while navigating steep inclines along the trail.
4. Limited trail markers: Pay attention to trail markers as they may be limited in certain areas.
5. Wildlife encounters: Be prepared for potential wildlife encounters and maintain a safe distance.
6. Weather changes: Be prepared for sudden weather changes and dress accordingly.
7. Limited cell phone reception: Expect limited or no cell phone reception along the trail.
8. Remote location: Keep in mind that the trail is located in a remote area with limited access to immediate assistance.

Conservation Notes

The St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail, located on St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea, holds a significant conservation status due to its unique ecological features and the protection it provides to various species. This trail is situated within the St. Paul Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge was established to safeguard the diverse wildlife and their habitats found on the island.

The conservation status of the St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail is primarily focused on the protection of seabird colonies that inhabit the cliffs and surrounding areas. These cliffs serve as crucial nesting sites for a variety of seabird species, including the endangered Steller’s Eider and the threatened Red-legged Kittiwake. The trail offers visitors an opportunity to observe these birds in their natural habitat while minimizing disturbance to their nesting activities.

Efforts have been made to maintain the conservation status of the trail by implementing strict regulations and guidelines for visitors. Access to certain areas may be restricted during breeding seasons to prevent disturbance to nesting seabirds. Additionally, visitors are encouraged to stay on designated paths and avoid trampling vegetation or disturbing wildlife. These measures aim to ensure the long-term conservation of the St. Paul Island High Bluffs Trail and its associated wildlife populations.

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