ATVs on Adak Island: Dos and Don'ts

With most of Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge's more than 2,500 islands and headlands only accessible by sea, Adak Island is one of very few places where you can hike into the refuge. We invite you to take advantage of your time on Adak to visit the refuge, where hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and camping are encouraged! 

Several easements provide access to the refuge across privately owned Aleut Corporation land. However, motorized vehicles are not allowed anywhere on the Refuge. Please park your ATV and walk in. Even low levels of ATV use cause extensive damage to fish and wildlife habitat. Vegetation is compressed and sheared, fertile top-soils eroded, streams and wetlands muddied and smothered. Damage done today with an ATV may not heal in your lifetime. Cold wet tundra plants and soils recover slowly. Dry lichens are so fragile that a single pass of an ATV will virtually eliminate them.

  • Illegal trails have been created on refuge lands…Do not use them.
  • The refuge boundary is not signed everywhere…Use a GPS or a map to know where you are.
  • Lands near town are mostly Aleut Corporation lands...note the Mt. Reed Unit of the refuge is close to town and surrounded by Aleut Corporation land.
  • A Land Use Permit is required to recreate on Aleut Corporation lands.

About Easements

Federal 17b Trail Easements provide access across private property to public lands and waters. You may not hunt, fish, camp or otherwise recreate on a trail easement, unless you obtain a permit from the landowner. 17b Trail Easements are open to foot and ATV traffic, but only two on Adak (the Husky Pass and Shagak Bay trails) are actually suitable for ATVs.

It's Not Always Easier To Drive

Both the Husky Pass and Shagak Bay trail easements are treacherously steep in places. Riders regularly roll their machines on sidehills. Because Adak's wet climate and fragile tundra are not ideal conditions for ATVs, trails deteriorate quickly and have become impassable in places. It is now almost impossible to remain within the 25' designated easement on either the Husky Pass or Shagak Bay trails.

Stay on the Trail, and Be Prepared To Walk

When the trail easements are slick or boggy, park your ATV and continue on foot. People who forge ahead despite conditions may widen or cause further damage to trails, and often end up with a mired vehicle

Know Where You Are

Several illegal ATV trails have developed around Mt. Reed, and these can lead you unwittingly into the refuge. It is your responsibility to keep your ATV out of the Refuge, as you may be cited and fined.

You can make sure you avoid crossing the refuge boundary by loading the refuge boundary shape files onto your GPS. The files are available from the Refuge's Adak office (592-2406), Aleut Real Estate's Adak office (592-ADAK). You can also email us at for the refuge boundary files to upload to your GPS.

You can also approximate boundary lines using the latitude and longitude on this map. For example, if you are between 176.69902 and 176.75153, then you should be either north of 51.84168 or south of 51.80912 to avoid trespassing on the refuge.

The National Wildlife Refuge system is a network of lands and waters administered for the conservation, management and restoration of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats, for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans. Adak's refuge land belongs to all of us. Please help protect those lands and the wildlife depending on those lands and explore/enjoy the refuge on foot.