Portage Pass and Lake
Portage Pass and Lake

Portage Pass and Lake hike

Around Anchorage
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Hiker posing near Iceberg in Portage Lake on a hike through Portage Pass TrailViews of Portage Glacier from the Portage Pass and Lake Trail in AlaskaHiking in front of Portage Glacier on Portage Lake trail in Kenai PeninsulaSeing icebergs in Portage Lake is a rare sight nowadaysResting in front of Portage Glacier on Portage Pass and Lake Trail AlaskaSmall lake near the Portage Pass on a hike towards Portage Lake in AlaskaBench with beautiful views of area surrounding Portage Lake on a hike in AlaskaDivide Lake along the Portage Pass and Lake TrailIceberg and rocky shores of Portage Lake on a hike to see Portage GlacierWildflowers along the Portage Pass and Lake Trail in AlaskaPassage Canal views from top of Portage Pass AlaskaSmall tarn along the trail to see the Portage Glacier near Anchorage AlaskaViews of the glaciers surrounding the Portage ValleyRocks glacier and lots of ice on Portage Lake day hike in AlaskaDivide Lake right next to Portage Pass on a trail to see the Portage GlacierSmall lake on the way to Portage Lake in AlaskaBeautiful views surrounding Portage Pass and Lake Trail near Anchorage AlaskaApproaching Portage Glacier on Portage Pass and Lake Trail in AlaskaWildflowers in front of Portage Glacier on Portage Lake HikeCrossing Portage Pass on a way to Portage Lake to see the beautiful glacier

Portage Pass and Lake hike

Distance: 6.3mi
Elevation: 1,575ft
Time: 3-4h

Difficulty Rating:

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9.7 Overall Rating
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The Portage Pass Trail near Whittier is a stunning moderate hike that goes over Portage Pass and leads to Portage Lake. There you will be blown away by the stunning Portage Glacier view and beautiful ice formations that exist on the lake.

Portage Pass Trail Map

Getting there

To get to the start of the Portage Pass Trail, from Anchorage, take Seward Highway heading east and turn to Portage Highway on your left (around 11.0mi after Girdwood). Carry on until you pass the Whittier Tunnel and take the first turn on your right. Shortly after you will pass white building and you will turnright – there will be a sign directing you to the trailhead.

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About

When to do

June - October

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Good

Crowd Levels

High

Route Type

Out and back


Portage Pass and Lake
Elevation Graph


Portage Pass Trail Description

If you want to hike the Portage Pass Trail, you need to do a bit of preparation before you leave home.

First of all, if you are coming from Anchorage, don’t forget to have some money on you as crossing the Whittier Tunnel will cost you $13 USD.

Also, be sure to bring warm clothing and raincoat with you as the surrounding area is known to be one of the wettest places in Alaska. Having waterproof shoes is strongly advised as well, as there are some creeks to pass, especially if you are considering approaching the glacier.

Start the Portage Pass Hike by ascending on a rather steep, but not technical trail covered by small rocks. You will be surrounded by lush greenery and bushes almost all the way to the pass. This path used to be roadbed for mining.

Soon you will reach the small Divide Lake and Portage Pass. It’s hard to miss it as the Portage Pass is marked by a sign. The views here are amazing – you will get a glimpse of Portage Glacier, Portage Lake, Byron Peak and other surrounding mountains.

Continue down towards Portage Lake and if you are considering skipping this part – think again, as most hikers find the overlook near the lake to be more stunning than panorama from Portage Pass.

Shortly you will pass the Divide Lake along the trail where you willcontinue straight.

After a while you will reach Portage Pass, with a stunning overlook towards Portage Glacier. If you are lucky, you might even see an iceberg floating in the water, but nowadays they are less common because the Portage Glacier is slowly retreating and covers less and less of the lake every year.

If you want to approach the glacier and get even closer, go ahead and take the path along the lake, but beware that there are multiple small creeks to cross and the last one, right next to the glacier, is deep and wide so you won’t be able to approach the glacier with just a reach of your hand.

Trail highlights

Portage Glacier

The Portage Glacier is located on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska and makes up part of the Chugach National Forest. In the 1800’s the Portage Glacier completely smothered the lake below however, it began retreating throughout the 20th century and exposed the 600 foot deep lake that lay beneath it.

Since 1999 the Glacier has slowed down and become more stable, with no real visible signs of it continuing to retreat. However, this Glacier is still very active and continues to have pieces of its face shatter and fall below into the lake. Depending on the weather, you may be able to see some of these chunks of ice sticking out of the lake below.

Frequently asked questions about the Portage Pass and Glacier Trail

How long is the Portage Glacier hike?

The length of the Portage Glacier is 6 miles long.

Can you walk on Portage Glacier?

Yes you can walk on Portage Glacier, however the first part of the walk is easy terrain but as you get closer it begins to get rocky and you will have to cross small streams and boulders.

Can you see Portage Glacier from the road?

Yes, you can see Portage Glacier from the road, however this depends on the weather.

Find other amazing hikes around Anchorage:

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Comments

Katrine Ford 8 months ago

This trip was one for the books. Will always go back here, too many fond memories.

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Suzy TQ 9 months ago

We stopped in here today to take a tour of portage glacier. The view of the glacier is magnificent! The blue color they seem to take on is actually caused by the only living organism in the glaciers - the ice worms.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Rowan Sanders 10 months ago

The whole set-up was well worth the drive. The visitors center and the cruise really made my short visit to Alaska magnificent.

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Ada Wright 10 months ago

It moderately easy, even though there were some steep and rocky sections. Tons of scenic views along the way. Very rewarding.

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Prince Ng 2 years ago

The ice formations are stunning! It was a rough, cold hike I would never forget!

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Michael Rivera 2 years ago

It was quite tricky in the beginning, but the trail gets easier as you get used to it. Microspikes made trekking here a lot easier.

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Monsiur Solo 2 years ago

Awesome hike. There were few greeneries along the way. Nice balance!

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Sally Nguyen 2 years ago

Spectacular overlook! was also able to catch a glimpse of Byron Peak! What a great hike!?

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Red Otter 2 years ago

The ice formations were phenomenal! Never seen any beauty like this before.

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Julia Totman 2 years ago

This is a fantastic hike! But it was a shame that I wasn't aware that we need to pay $13 to cross the Whittier Tunnel. I'm not against it, I mean, it's for the greater good right?

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11 Comments Show all

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