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.
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.