Portage Pass Trail Chugach Na­tional For­est, Alaska

Fol­low in the steps of the Last Fron­tier’s orig­i­nal ex­plor­ers for views over Prince Wil­liam Sound and an un­for­get­table sun­rise.

Backpacker - - VIEW WITH A ROOM -

Get here Drive through the Whit­tier Tun­nel, built in 1940 and the long­est ve­hi­cle-rail­road tun­nel in North Amer­ica, to ac­cess the trail­head.

Hike it From the Portage Pass trail­head, climb 750 feet through alder and pine and across tun­dra to Portage Pass, af­ter which the trail lev­els out. Once used by Alaska Na­tives and Rus­sian fur traders, the hike is per­fect for a re­laxed overnight; this camp­site with views in both di­rec­tions is just .7 mile from the trail­head. Tip: The pass of­ten gets windy at night. For a calmer camp­site, con­tinue an­other 1.3 miles to the grav­elly shores of Portage Lake.

Pad­dle The For­est Ser­vice opened Portage Lake to kayak­ing in 2009. Put in at the launch across the bridge from the Begich, Boggs Vis­i­tor Cen­ter and give Portage Glacier a wide berth (check specifics at the cen­ter): It still calves, drop­ping huge blocks of ice into the wa­ter and trig­ger­ing large waves.

DO IT Trail­head 60.775784, -148.718104 Sea­son June to Septem­ber Per­mit None Con­tact bit.do/portagepass

The moun­tains in Chugach Na­tional For­est are made of greywacke, a crumbly, meta­mor­phic silt­stone formed on the ocean floor and up­lifted 130 mil­lion years ago. Once vis­i­ble from the nearby Begich, Boggs Vis­i­tor Cen­ter, Portage Glacier (on the pass’s south­west side) re­treated out of sight in 1993. The Nel­lie Juan- Col­lege Fiord Wilder­ness Study Area cov­ers roughly 2 mil­lion acres of the Chugach Na­tional For­est. In Septem­ber, the sun rises be­tween 6:50 and 8. Go to bit.do/ portage­sun­rise for ex­act times. Whit­tier Pas­sage Canal DEEP­EST POINT LENGTH 1,140 ft. 8 mi. W ID TH 1 m i. EL­E­VA­TION 807 ft. (pop­u­la­tion 214) sits be­low the pass.

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