Prince William Sound Area Hiking Trails

For a relatively compact area, the Prince William Sound region boasts an incredible variety of trails, most of which are exceptionally maintained by either the local parks and recreation departments or the U.S. Forest Service. And because of the area’s significant rainfall, the trails snake through mosses, lichens, and massive amounts of green lushness, making it feel like walking through a fairy tale. Several trails offer spectacular glacier views.

Be aware that snow in the higher elevations doesn’t fully melt until early to mid-June. For any hikes above treeline, shoot for late June/early July to avoid hiking through slush.

In Cordova, you’ll find most of the trails in the Chugach National Forest. There are roughly 40 miles of maintained, road-accessible trails (and well over 100 miles of trail in total) that take you to mountain tops, through muskeg meadows, and to glacier lakes. Popular trails include the Crater Lake Trail, Sheridan Glacier Trail, Pipeline Lakes and Mckinley Trail Loop, and the Heney Ridge Trail (which has some amazing views).

Whittier offers a great mix of well-established and new trails, thanks to the active local parks and recreation department. Arguably, the most popular option is Portage Pass—a short, 4-mile round-trip trek which leads to a vista of Portage Glacier and then on to the shorefront of Portage Glacier Lake.

Valdez has several great trails right near town, as well as just beyond town along the Richardson Highway in Keystone Canyon. They’re maintained by the local parks department and the volunteer Valdez Adventure Alliance. For an easy walk with great views near town, head to Dock Point. You’ll get views of the Duck Flats in one direction; the other serves up shimmering waters and snow-capped peaks. In the canyon, check out Goat Trail, where you’ll be treated to views of Bridal Veil Falls.

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Parks & Trails

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 6 miles

This is a very steep, 6.4‑mile round-trip trail that’s most­ly unmarked and requires expe­ri­ence with scram­bling and climb­ing over rocks. Your reward for the effort, though, is some very dra­mat­ic views of Shot­gun Cove and the glac­i­ers in Black­stone Bay.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 6 miles

This is a 6.6‑mile round-trip trail with very lit­tle ele­va­tion gain, mak­ing it a great option for the whole fam­i­ly. Along the way, you’ll glimpse amaz­ing views of Prince William Sound. It takes about 90 min­utes to hike halfway, out to the cove. And it’s worth the trip: Here you’ll find a lagoon fed by the tide and full of huge starfish.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 6 miles

6.2 round-trip easy hike through the Chugach Nation­al For­est to a glacial lake. Pop­u­lar in win­ter for fat bik­ing and ice skat­ing. In sum­mer, hik­ing and paddleboarding. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 2 miles

This 2‑mile-long, fam­i­ly-friend­ly trail, which begins 90 min­utes south of Anchor­age at the far end of the Whit­ti­er Tun­nel, remains the only easy way to see Portage Glac­i­er on foot. And it’s has a spec­tac­u­lar con­clu­sion: After crest­ing Portage Pass, the trail drops through glacial scrub before pop­ping out on the wide grav­el shores of Portage Lake, direct­ly across from the snout of gor­geous Portage Glacier.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles

This 1.5‑mile hike is an easy stroll down to the lake that offers a great pay­off in the form of a gor­geous glac­i­er. If you’re here in win­ter and the con­di­tions are right, it’s a great spot for wilder­ness ice skat­ing, fat bik­ing, or cross-coun­try skiing!

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile Elevation Gain: 100 feet

This short day hike — with an eas­i­ly acces­si­ble trail­head a few hun­dred meters from the Begich Bog­gs Vis­i­tor Cen­ter — offers you big views of the Byron Glacier.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 700 feet

This leisure­ly, 0.75-mile trail begins just south of Whit­ti­er, a lit­tle sea­side town locat­ed some 2 hours south of Anchor­age. The trail doesn’t climb much, but it will take you high enough to get an unob­struct­ed view of numer­ous water­falls, includ­ing the long-drop­ping waters of Horse­tail Falls as it sheets over the sheer rock face of Black­stone Ridge. 

One of the most vis­it­ed nat­ur­al attrac­tions along the Richard­son High­way, this four-mile-long glac­i­er descends almost to pave­ment and is easy to approach on foot. The state recre­ation site fea­tures park­ing, pit toi­lets, and a cov­ered pavil­ion with a mod­el of the glac­i­er and inter­pre­tive signs, all close to small lake.

Difficulty: Easy

Bridal Veil Falls and the Valdez Goat Trail: This two-mile-long hike is a restored sec­tion of the Trans-Alas­ka Mil­i­tary Pack-train Trail that was the first glac­i­er-free route from Valdez to the inte­ri­or of Alas­ka. There’s a fan­tas­tic over­look about a mile down the trail.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 8 miles

This 4.1‑mile trail starts through for­est and muskeg mead­ows. You’ll cross a beau­ti­ful bridge over a creek that in mid-July and August is full of spawn­ing chum salmon Then once you’re at the top take in views of Cor­do­va, Nel­son Bay, and Prince William Sound. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

Whittier’s newest trail is a gem — a gen­tle, ¾‑mile stroll that fol­lows Whit­ti­er Creek from the rail­road cross­ing up to the water­fall. Locals love it: It’s right in the mid­dle of town, but the lush green­ery makes you feel like you’re far from civilization.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles

This is a steep climb that ends where Crater Lake sits. The first half climbs over rocky sec­tions with numer­ous switch­backs, with mud­dy areas and wood bridges. The sec­ond half con­tin­ues to climb, but at a much nicer grade. At mile 1.2 there is an inter­tie to Ski Hill trail and at the lake there is the option to hike the Alice Smith Inter­tie. The entire loop from Crater Lake to Pow­er Creek Trail­head is 12 miles. Along this trail there is good…  ...more

Pad­dle around a qui­et lagoon with the impres­sive Shoup Glac­i­er at one end and ice­bergs that have calved from the glac­i­er, mar­vel at the live­ly black-legged Kit­ti­wake Rook­ery, and take in the feel­ing of being some­where remote — even if you’re only 5 miles from town.

Difficulty: Easy

There are only a few places where you can spend time along the Lowe Riv­er with­out the sound of cars and motor homes — this unmarked turnoff is one of them. From here you can explore a lit­tle bit upstream and find a nice place to relax next to the riv­er. And the only peo­ple you may see are local rafters, as this is used as a pick­up spot after float­ing through Key­stone Canyon.Just one warn­ing: don’t fall into the water! Alaskan water temperatures…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

This trail has impres­sive views of the Chugach Moun­tains. Short spur trails offer access to five small lakes that are excel­lent for cut­throat fishing.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

An easy trail, about 0.6 miles long, that will take about 1 hour to hike and leads you to excel­lent views of Child’s Glac­i­er. Impor­tant note: While the For­est Ser­vice still main­tains it, you can’t get here by car, as the Cop­per Riv­er high­way is washed out at Mile 36. You can only access the trail by hir­ing a boat or a plane from town.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

About four miles in, there is a fish hatch­ery on this trail. The trail was cre­at­ed to pro­vide a close look at the hatch­ery’s dam, lake, and aque­ducts. It also offers a good view of the Port of Valdez. It can be a step hike at times.

Difficulty: Moderate

This trail fol­lows Pow­er Creek then leads it’s hik­ers up mul­ti­ple switch­backs. Mid­way, the Cor­do­va Elec­tric Hydropow­er Dam Can be seen from the trail. The last half pass­es by many beaver ponds and hang­ing glaciers. 

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 6 miles

This ridge route has amaz­ing views of Prince William Sound, Eyak Lake, and the Cop­per Riv­er Delta. About halfway down the trail, there is small shel­ter avail­able for day use or overnight camp­ing. It is avail­able on a first-come first-serve basis.

Difficulty: Easy

Locat­ed at Mile 17 of the Cop­per Riv­er High­way. An acces­si­ble board­walk leads vis­i­tors to stun­ning views of both the expan­sive wet­lands of the Cop­per Riv­er Delta and the sur­round­ing moun­tains. A wide vari­ety of wet­land ani­mals includ­ing trum­peter swans, moose, brown bear, and shore­birds can be seen in the area, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the spring and fall. The first half of this trail is paved with geoblock, so that it does not have a negative…  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles

The first mile and a half of this trail leads up over rocky slopes that offer a great view of Eyak Lake and the Orca Inlet. At this point the trail splits in two and the hik­er has a choice of going around the south end of Mt. Eyak or climb­ing straight up to the top.

Difficulty: Moderate

This is an easy .8‑mile board­walk trail with lots of stairs. The board­walk leads to over­look of the Cop­per Riv­er Delta with many signs. Be sure to bring your cam­era, this is a great place to see moose and bear. 

Difficulty: Easy

This is an easy 2.4‑mile hike with excel­lent fish­ing for sock­eye, Dol­ly Var­den and cut­throat. You’ll find access to McKin­ley Trail and McKin­ley Lake pub­lic use cab­ins. It is a well-main­tained trail that has sev­er­al bridges for easy stream cross­ings and inter­pre­tive signs to explain the trail’s history. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 6 miles

This trail cross­es Indi­an Creek sev­er­al times on its grad­ual climb through the old growth for­est. Brush and Alder give way to a panoram­ic a‑line near Indi­an Creek Pass. Parts of the trail can be dif­fi­cult to fol­low, espe­cial­ly when trav­el­ing through the grass of the sub-alpine. This is part of the Arc­tic to Indi­an” win­ter ski traverse.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles

The hike begins through the for­est before it begins to climb. There are rock cairns to help guide you along the way. From the top, you’ll have impres­sive views of the Sheri­dan and Sher­man glaciers.

Difficulty: Easy

There is a good guide for this trail avail­able at the Begich, Bog­gs Vis­i­tor Cen­ter at Portage Glac­i­er. Num­bered trail posts cor­re­spond to things in the guide. This is a great place to view spawn­ing salmon in the fall. It is a well-main­tained path with a thir­ty-foot bridge. This hike is wheel­chair acces­si­ble and there are lots of berries and var­i­ous wildlife species.

Difficulty: Moderate

This ski trail weaves through muskeg and for­est and grad­u­al­ly gains ele­va­tion until it ends. The trail leads to a high muskeg that over­looks the Cop­per Riv­er Delta, Heney Range and the Gulf of Alas­ka. This trail is very wet dur­ing all sea­sons exclud­ing win­ter and is not a hik­ing trail. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 5 miles Elevation Gain: 2506 feet

Dis­cov­er year-round recre­ation above Cor­do­va on this gor­geous moun­tain. In win­ter, you can lose your­self among the puffy snow­drifts and pow­der-cov­ered trees as you schuss down the slopes. And in the sum­mer, you’ll find berry pick­ing, hik­ing, and festivals.

This very active glac­i­er forms a wall along the fabled Cop­per Riv­er near a his­toric rail­road route that once ser­viced the world’s largest cop­per mine. NOTE: A bridge at Mile 36 of the Cop­per Riv­er High­way is cur­rent­ly (2020) impass­able, with repairs not expect­ed for sev­er­al years. Child’s Glac­i­er is not cur­rent­ly acces­si­ble by road. Con­tact Cor­do­va Ranger Dis­trict for cur­rent venders pro­vid­ing trans­porta­tion options to the far side.  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles

The 3.3‑mile long trail is most­ly board­walk over muskeg. This is an excel­lent spot to bird-watch, look for water­fowl feed­ing on Eyak Lake. Trum­peter swans fre­quent this lake. Most fly south for the win­ter how­ev­er, up to 100 swans will win­ter here in this ice-free lake. 

Difficulty: Difficult

This is a light­ly slop­ing trail that par­al­lels the Scott Val­ley and pass­es the shores of large and small lakes. The trail pass­es through an area that was pre­vi­ous­ly logged. It is not a well-main­tained trail. 

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