Photo Credit: Kathleen Barth

Whittier Parks & Trails

The hiking trails in Whittier offer a fun, scenic way to explore the lush environment in and around town. The trails are not only gorgeous, but also fairly new, thanks to a huge local government and volunteer effort to build them over the past five years. Today, they’ve become a point of pride for this community of just 200 people.

Exploring these trails takes you through super-lush greenery, thanks to their prime spot in North America’s northernmost temperate rainforest. You’ll hike past magical scenes of moss-covered rocks and lichens clinging to trees. And from many of the trails, you’ll also get unrivaled scenic views of massive glaciers, craggy mountains, cascading waterfalls, and overlooks of Prince William Sound.

Which trails should you hike? If you only have a few minutes, stroll the short Whittier Creek Trail. But the most popular trail is Portage Pass, which offers up views of Passage Canal and Portage Glacier. Hike to the peak of the pass, or continue down the other side to the lakefront. And for a real challenge, tackle the Blackstone Bay Vista Trail. You’ll be scrambling over rocks and following rock cairns above treeline; the payoff for all that work is jaw-dropping views of the bay and glaciers.

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Parks & Trails

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: 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. 

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: 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: 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.

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