Portage Pass

Whittier, Alaska

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1 Review
5 out of 5
On a good day, the first part of this hike offers the greatest reward for effort expended of any hike in this book. In less than a mile, after a relatively easy climb that gains about 700 feet of elevation, the trail reaches a breathtaking view of Portage Glacier and the black, glacier-laden peaks that rise above it. With somewhat more effort you can reach the shore of Portage Lake, some 600 feet below, and enjoy what is most likely a private view of this fast disappearing glacier. The strategic location of Portage Pass, between Turnagain Arm and ice-free Passage Canal, gave it an historic role. Hundreds of years ago Alaska Natives and Russians used it as a trading route, crossing the pass on Portage Glacier. Following the discovery of gold in the Turnagain Arm area in the early 1890s, Alaska’s first gold rush began. When Cook Inlet was clogged with ice flows, ships dropped prospectors at Passage Canal.

Portage Pass Professional Review and Guide

"On a good day, the first part of this hike offers the greatest reward for effort expended of any hike in this book. In less than a mile, after a relatively easy climb that gains about 700 feet of elevation, the trail reaches a breathtaking view of Portage Glacier and the black, glacier-laden peaks that rise above it. With somewhat more effort you can reach the shore of Portage Lake, some 600 feet below, and enjoy what is most likely a private view of this fast disappearing glacier.

The strategic location of Portage Pass, between Turnagain Arm and ice-free Passage Canal, gave it an historic role. Hundreds of years ago Alaska Natives and Russians used it as a trading route, crossing the pass on Portage Glacier. Following the discovery of gold in the Turnagain Arm area in the early 1890s, Alaska’s first gold rush began. When Cook Inlet was clogged with ice flows, ships dropped prospectors at Passage Canal."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Whittier
Distance: 4
Elevation Gain: 700 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Duration: 2-5 hours
Season: July-Sept
Local Contacts: Chugach National Forest
Local Maps: USGS Seward D5 SW
Driving Directions: Directions to Portage Pass

Recent Trail Reviews

7/9/2011
0

Wow! Thousands of people every day rush to the Prince Edward Sound and miss this true gem of a trail. To reach the trailhead you need to go through the 2 mile tunnel from Bear Valley to Wittier. Once through the tunnel, you will pass a restroom on the right, and not long after that, an un-marked dirt road, on the right, across the railroad tracks. (Going toward the tunnel, leaving Whittier, there is a sign.) The trail is only about a mile long, on a well kept trail with small to medium size aggregate. If it's dry (kinda rare in Whittier), your basic tennis/athletic shoe is your best bet because the softer sole grips the trail better. If it's raining, stick with hiking shoes. What is so great about this trail is that it isn't very crowded; we only passed about three couples up and back. To the top and back takes about an hour and half, depending upon abilities. Going straight up the trail leads to an unbelievable view of Portgage Glacier. At the top, but the opposite direction, is a view of Whittier and Prince Edward Sound. There is even a wooden bench at that point. We saw additional trails that we assumed could be taken for a longer hike, perhaps to the glacier/lake itself. A truly wonderful little hike. We took the hike and then had a nice lunch at the port of Whittier looking over the water. Enjoy!



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May 2018