Young Over Yonder: Portage Pass

The hike to Portage Lake and adjacent glacier may very well be one of my favorites in the Kenai Peninsula. Or rather, it would be if I ever finished it.

My good friend, Chris, was visiting with his girlfriend, Aspen for a week and wanted to get out and experience some of what Alaska had to offer. Chris, who has a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and specializes in drone work, wanted to get somewhere that offered several unique views. It was already late in the day, so we opted to head south of Anchorage and chase the clear blue skies near Portage Lake. Chris had never hiked Portage Pass before. Once through the 2.5 mile long tunnel in Whittier, AK, we eagerly started at the Portage Pass trailhead.

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Chris and Aspen hike on the trail. Awesome views are present almost 360 degrees around when at the top. Photo credit: Young Kim

The hike itself (or what I’ve done of it) is fairly easy, and if you are a moderately active individual, should not pose a problem for you at all. There is a somewhat steep elevation in the beginning, about 800 feet in the first mile, but after that, it is relatively flat. Once at the top, there are many different paths one could take. Stick towards the right and you’ll find yourself at the lookout that offers a view of the glacier. Stick to the far left, and you’ll find yourself along a very impressive ridge that looks out towards a few waterfalls and a deep gorge. There is also a middle path, which if you follow for about a mile, will take you to the edge of Portage Lake. From the shoreline, it is about another mile to the face of the glacier.

We made a decision to stick to the far left and check out the waterfalls and gorge, as we felt that would have provided the most dynamic vantage point for the drone, and we were not wrong. Simply put and for lack of better words, it was awesome.

Although we wanted to follow the trail and check out the lake and glacier, we had to head back down towards the trailhead so that we could make it back on time for the last tunnel back to Anchorage. One day, I’ll go back to finish the whole thing.

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Aspen Luna stands and looks over Prince William Sound and Whittier at the top of the first mile of the hike. Photo credit: Young Kim