Highly reviewed across the Alaska trail chatter network, and also by real life friends, this hike has been on my list for a long time. Last Sunday David and I (+Ginger) checked it out.
Getting there: First of all – the Whittier Tunnel. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in North America. This one-way tunnel through the mountain is 2.5 miles long and takes 10 minutes to drive. It is shared by train and car and there is a schedule and a fee.
It’s a short drive to the trailhead on the other side of the tunnel – take the first right. It’s marked.
Up, up, up the rocky trail we went. One mile up.
At the top (800′), a look back down toward Whittier and Prince William Sound>>
And looking down the other side, toward Portage Glacier>>
On we walked. This time down, down, down the rocky trail for another (not so rough and rocky) mile+.
There were blueberries.
And so many waterfalls cascading down the mountainsides.
And ultimately, this fantastic view>>
There is reported to be no dry path around to the other side where we could have come within reach of the Glacier. We saw a group of people in the distance working there way through a waterway to get closer. Another day we might have gone on hiking the perimeter of the lake to see what it’s like over there, but not this time. We hung out a bit at the water’s edge and watched the mv Ptarmagin slowly touring the lake on its way to a closeup view of the glacier. We don’t take these views for granted in this swiftly melting climate.
This is billed as a “heavily trafficked trail,” but always that must be measured by Alaska standards: lots and lots of space, not so many people. When we arrived at the trailhead there were quite a few cars, but the trail did not seem terribly busy. It was noticeably populated at the top of the pass and it seemed that was a turnaround point for many.
I’m glad to have finally hiked this trail and know better how and when to recommend it. The hour+ drive, the tunnel details, and the serious uphill rocky trail are good to know.
But also – it’s hard to complain about that drive! On the way home I remarked to David how even after all these years I’ve driven the Seward Highway now, I am still struck by the beauty. Whether in a rainstorm, or ice and snow, or sometimes even blue sky sunshine…..It’s amazing every time.