The Underrated Glacier Hike In Alaska That Everyone Will Love
Make your way to Alaska’s Portage Valley and head towards this short, sweet hike that is positively enchanting. This 14-mile-long isthmus that connects the Kenai Peninsula to mainland Alaska is filled with a plethora of natural attractions. From the lush beauty of the Chugach National Forest to the immense glacial sights that will greet you at every twist and turn, there is simply no denying how magical this idyllic landscape is. While the most recognized hiking attraction in the area is to Portage Glacier, the underrated hike to Byron Glacier is a perfect day hike fit for entire families to enjoy.
As you head south from Anchorage towards the Kenai Peninsula, turn left on Portage Glacier Road and make your way through the winding, heavily glaciated valley towards Portage Lake Loop.
Located just near the the Begich Boggs Visitor Center in Portage is the trail-head for the 3.3 mile round-trip Byron Glacier hike.
The alder and cottonwood forest that'll greet you at the beginning of the hike is lush with ferns, which offers a serene setting perfect for starting off the fun day ahead.
As you hop on the trail (this time of year), a single-line hard pack of snow leads the entire length of the trek, making it easy to walk with a pair of hiking shoes and crampons.
During the summer months when the snow melts, the trail is covered with a mix of dirt, gravel and mud for the entire length of the trek.
This trail is considered to be 'moderately traveled,' leading us to believe that it just might be one of the most underrated trails in the Portage Valley.
In the summertime, you'll find many stones along the banks of the river which offer imaginative activities for both kiddos and adults. Rock skipping and fort building are just a couple of the activities along the way that'll make the experience exceptionally special.
Although it is said that the best time to hike this trail is from April through October, the peacefulness that comes with hiking it during the winter months is truly food for the soul.
The Byron Glacier trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, photography, wildlife viewing and birding.
We opted for a simple late-wintertime hike with the dogs, which they thoroughly enjoyed from start until finish.
Along the way you'll pass by a river before leading into a wide-open valley completely surrounded by mountains.
Talk about feeling small when you're surrounded by such massive, towering mountains!
When there is heavy snowfall on the ground, the glacier is hard to spot along the way. But keep going; we promise it's up there at the very end of the trail!
We almost turned around because we thought we might have missed a turn along the way (because we didn't see the actual glacier until the very end of the hike), but thankfully we kept going because the light at the end of the tunnel was like something straight out of a dream.
As you approach the glacier, you're guaranteed to have a *pinch me this can't be real* type of a moment.
And once you arrive and finally get inside to explore all the magic, the obligatory 'jump photo' is simply a must.
Spend some time exploring all the fascinating nooks and crannies on an up close and personal level.
The caves are (literally) so cool and also very enticing, but remember to use extreme caution as these areas are also very dangerous and unforgiving.
While Portage Glacier is easily the most popular attraction in Portage Valley, the glacial remnants of the Explorer, Middle, Byron, Burns, and Shakespeare glaciers are equally as enthralling.
That is, of course, if you're willing to make the trek in. But at just 3.3 miles round-trip, the hike to Byron Glacier is an easily accessible option that offers the perfect distance for all sizes, shapes and experience levels to enjoy.
Dress warmly so that you can stay a while and enjoy the reward that you deserve.
This is such a wow-worthy experience, but being inside a glacier is COLD! Wear warm clothes to keep you toasty while exploring the glacier and be sure to enough bring snacks (and water) to keep you fueled up from start until finish.
While we loved showing you just how magical this hike is during the snowy, winter months – don’t forget to check out how the experience will look during the summertime months by watching the great YouTube video below. Be safe out there, adventure hounds!
Since you’re already heading to the area, be sure to check out t
his one abandoned spot in Alaska that nature is reclaiming (and it’s actually amazing). For more great hikes, be sure to check out these 15 incredible hikes under 5 miles that everyone in Alaska should take. For more great articles and incredible video footage from Alaska, be sure to check us out online HERE.
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