Portage Pass

Whittier, Alaska

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1 Review
5 out of 5
Portage Pass Trail is a great family outing, with stunning views of subalpine terrain, Passage Canal, Portage Lake, and the Glacier. Wildlife highlights here are resident mountain goats and, in season, migrating birds. If you do the hike in September, you might be lucky enough to spot a flock of swans flying through the pass on their southerly migration. Getting to the start of this hike in Whittier, involves driving the Portage-Whittier toll road south of Girdwood, which passes through a one-lane, shared auto/train tunnel with specific periods during the day when it is open to automobile traffic in each direction (at this writing, the typical pattern from May 1 to September 30 is a short opening in each direction approximately hourly from about 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.). The toll is not inexpensive; plan to stay awhile for the hike and maybe take a walk around Whittier while you’re there—the town is a world of its own, to put it mildly.

Portage Pass Professional Review and Guide

"Portage Pass Trail is a great family outing, with stunning views of subalpine terrain, Passage Canal, Portage Lake, and the Glacier. Wildlife highlights here are resident mountain goats and, in season, migrating birds. If you do the hike in September, you might be lucky enough to spot a flock of swans flying through the pass on their southerly migration.

Getting to the start of this hike in Whittier, involves driving the Portage-Whittier toll road south of Girdwood, which passes through a one-lane, shared auto/train tunnel with specific periods during the day when it is open to automobile traffic in each direction (at this writing, the typical pattern from May 1 to September 30 is a short opening in each direction approximately hourly from about 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.). The toll is not inexpensive; plan to stay awhile for the hike and maybe take a walk around Whittier while you’re there—the town is a world of its own, to put it mildly."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Whittier
Distance: 1-3 miles
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Season: Best July through September
Features: Waterfalls
Accessibility: Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Local Contacts: Chugach National Forest, Glacier Ranger District, PO Box 129, 145 Forest Station Rd., Girdwood, AK 99587; (907) 783-3242; www.fs.usda.gov/chugach/
Local Maps: USGS Seward D-5 (SW)
Driving Directions: Directions to Portage Pass

Recent Trail Reviews

5/30/2011
0

You don't have to devote a half-day to enjoy the incredible view from the "summit" of this pass trail. A mere 20-minute walk from the trailhead (with only a moderate rise in elevation--I've seen Grandma "hike" this first part of the trail quite easily) brings you to a fantastic view of the Harding Icefield, Portage Glacier and (looking back) the western edge of Prince William Sound. You can, of course, continue down the trail to a small lake, and "bushwhack" your way to the larger Portage Lake itself. THAT will take you the better part of a day. PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a "Girdwood" trail. It is a Whittier trail. Girdwood is quite a distance from this trail, while Whittier is literally just around the bend from the trail. Whittier, however, is not an overnight spot for most travelers wanting more comfortable lodging. If you want a wide selection of accommodation, you will want to choose Girdwood. Please also be aware that road access to this trail is through a one-lane shared vehicle/railroad tunnel ($12 auto toll) from Portage.



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May 2018