Jul 3, 2016

Portage Pass Trail to Portage Glacier & Portage Lake

 The Portage Pass trail starts just outside of Whittier and travels upward 700 feet in elevation gain to the top. It's around one and half miles to the top and then continues down another mile and a half to the shores of Portage Lake.
The trail is well defined. At the lower elevations it cuts through thick brush and alder trees. It's a gravel trail that was mostly dry the day we hiked it.
 The entire hike you are surrounded by incredible vistas. Waterfalls cascade off the surrounding peaks, fed by melting snow or hanging glaciers.
 Did I mention the glaciers... The goal of the hike is the Portage Glacier, but its just one of several glaciers to see.
 The total distance from the trail head to the lake and back is about 6 miles. The trail is pretty steep in places... For us it was a difficult hike, but we are in pretty weak physical shape. We passed several families with smaller children, so it's pretty doable for most people.
 Going up and down has great views in every direction. Many people choose to just hike the top and not continue onto the lake. Looking back the way you came has views of Passage Canal, the mouth of the Anton Anderson Tunnel and the Whittier Harbor. The cruise ship the Coral Princess was in port the day we did the hike.
 A word of warning: the bugs were horrible... Not just mosquitoes but biting flies. We repeatedly applied bug dope, but it only helped at a little. We had a slight breeze, so maybe a stronger wind would help. At the very top on the Whittier side the wind was stronger and the bugs were a lot less.
 Again... the views are amazing. Once you reach the top you can see Divide Lake and then the Portage Glacier beyond that. The trail can be seen on the shore just left of Divide Lake and then it drops down to the shore of Portage Lake. You can click on any of the pictures for a larger view.
 The top of the pass is your classic Alaskan alpine area. We'd like to repeat the hike sometime and the future and spend some time exploring up here. It appears there are trails going off in several different directions.

 At the top we debated about continuing on down to Portage Lake. I was already pretty worn out from the trip up and the heat was making me sick. But after getting down to the lake I know it was worth it. You could spend a lot time exploring along the lake and there were even people setting up to camp overnight on the shore.

The other, more popular way to get to the Portage Glacier is aboard the M/V Ptarmigan with Portage Glacier Cruises. This one hour ride is cost effective and gets you right up to the face of the glacier. You can book your cruise here...
For more information on visiting Whittier you can click here...
For details on traveling through the Anton Anderson tunnel you can click here...