Anchorage, Alaska

Hike Byron Glacier

Originally added by Jack Consenstein

Distance: 1.6 miles roundtrip to glacier. Elevation gain: 100 ft. Insane views. Ice caves to explore. Five glacial views. Unlimited hiking areas. Potential to camp higher up on a ridge.

To begin on this adventure, you first have to find the trailhead. Drive out on the highway to Girdwood, and turn left at the sign that says "Portage Glacier". Towards the end of the road, it Ys and you take a right, then another right. Follow this road, and the first parking lot on your right is the one for you. Unfortunately there are no bathrooms here, but if you're a true adventurer you won't mind going in the woods.

Start hiking along the trail into the woods. This is a semi-popular trail, and so is well maintained with gravel and wooden bridges. After about 20 minutes of hiking, the woods fade away and the trail dead-ends on the glacial moraine. From here, there is no set trail so feel free to go your own route. You can reach the foot of the glacier in less than an hour of hiking, and at that point there are a few options. You can either hike along the glacier's edge, and find ice caves and little streams, or you can head up to one of the ridges.

To the left is a ridge that overlooks Portage Glacier, but is quite a scramble to get up and down from. On the right is a slightly mellower climb on scree that leads to a grassy bench. This could be a prime spot for setting up a tent for the night, or a nice spot for a picnic (which is what I've done). This grassy ridge overlooks the entirety of Byron Glacier, along with Portage Glacier and 3 other glaciers across Portage Lake. It's a beautiful spot to have lunch and glacier-gaze. From here, it is possible to access the ridge and head to Byron Peak, however this is not recommended without climbing experience and safety gear.

The entire valley that Byron Glacier rests in is a beautiful valley with stunning views, and because of this, what can be planned for a short day hike can easily turn into an all day venture. It is an amazing place that constantly changes with the glacier, so get out there and enjoy it!

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Tags

Camping
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Groups
Picnic Area
River
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Stunning in summer or winter.

I visited in the winter first when avalanche danger is higher but the ice is more stable. In the summer the glacier is more stunning against the mountains and green vegetation but it's too risky to go inside any caves.

over 2 years ago

Longer then Expected!

Getting to the actual glacier was a fairly long ways! All the way back in the valley! Takes about an hour in total! In the winter, ice grippers are a must! And be ready to climb up avalanche snows in the winter!

Bear Sighting 11/4/17

Be prepared! He (a good sized black bear) was only about 10 minutes from the parking lot

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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