Portage Pass Hike


This year we’ve been seeking out easy hikes.  We’ve realized short and easy is enjoyable at this stage of life — much more practical with a toddler in tow. Portage Pass met the criteria, so last summer we headed towards Whittier to try it out.

We drove this time, but once there, we realized that the airport in Whittier is almost directly across from the road that leads to the trailhead. It would be a pretty easy walk if you didn’t want to mess with getting through the tunnel or just wanted to get the dust off your plane.

To get to the trailhead you have to go through the Whittier Tunnel, which is 13 dollars, and that takes a little bit of planning (since its a one-way tunnel). Traffic heading to Whittier departs on the half hour, and traffic coming from Whittier departs at the top of the hour. You pay when you go into Whittier, and leaving is free.

Once out of the tunnel, you take your first right on the well-marked road for the trail.




After one more right (also marked), you come to the trail head. There isn’t a parking lot; but, the road is a dead end, so parking along the road is fair game.


The trail is short but packs 750 feet of elevation into the first one mile, after that it is just another mile to the lake.


Atlee fuels her hike with hot dogs.  She might not look at all like me, but her food choices definitely reassure me that she is my child :).




Enjoying a toddler pace (which I’m pretty sure might be slower than a snail’s pace) for the first 500 feet or so.




It’s a steady, moderate climb to the pass, but the views are pretty dramatic and rewarding once there.



At the top the trail splinters and wanders around the alpine landscape. The main trail drops down then veers to the left before taking an abrupt right.





We took some time to explore; this is the view from the trail that veers to the right.


From this view you can see where the main trail runs by the bench to the lake then turns right where the small marker is.



Glacial views on three sides.




When you get close to the lake, the trail runs along a creek. We opted to walk down in the riverbed.



The weather was a bit more gray than the day before, but arriving at the beach scattered with dwarf fireweed still seemed like a beautiful grand finale.




Atlee’s newest word is “no way,”  we have her friend Lukas to thank for that, and she enjoys spitting it out at any opportunity. Thankfully, green beans were a “yes way” (we need to teach her that) for lunch.



Of course I couldn’t resist making a flower crown 🙂


After enjoying some leisure time, the cool wind from the glacier picked up and made it chilly. We packed up and headed back up the trail.


…Not before looking back at the glorious view a couple times.


The trail going back to the pass isn’t as steep as the other side, but it is uphill.

Back at the pass looking out over Prince William Sound.


We ended our adventure with a stop at the Girdwood Brewery for a beer and a snack from the food truck parked in their parking lot before heading back to Anchorage.