“This trail makes a quick out and back with a great view of the Portage Glacier.”
— James Jackson
Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Need to Know
In order to access this hike from outside of Whittier, be prepared to pass through the Whittier tunnel. Vehicles can only pass through the tunnel once per hour (to Whittier on the half hour, from Whittier on the hour) at a rate or $13 per car, as of Summer 2018.
This is great for trail running, and the route is well marked.
The trailhead is easy to find. Coming from the east end of the Whittier Tunnel, take the next available right. You'll see a USFS sign for the trailhead. There is a lot of available parking.
The first mile is up an old cat-track. At the top is Portage Pass. There is a great vista of the Portage Glacier to the southeast. You can see other glaciers to the northeast and southeast. Someone was kind enough to build a bench up at the top so you can soak up all vistas. From Portage Pass, it is another mile downhill to Portage Lake
. There will be a sign that says Portage Lake
. This is the end of the trail, but it was fun to wander around the lake edge. If you think you can make it to Portage Glacier without getting wet, you can't. There is a good-sized creek between the trail's end and the glacier.
When you return, it is a mile up to the pass, and another mile back down to the trailhead. It is a tough climb, but still possible for a whole family.
Flora & Fauna
Along the trail, it is fairly common to see signs of bear activity, so be sure to take some Bear Spray. Mountain goats can sometimes be seen off in the distance.
Sitka spruce, hemlock, and heavy alder underbrush make up the majority of the flora here.