Bring a bike or simply hike the trails on this family friendly excursion. You can do this as a multi-day trip – or do easy day trips from Anchorage.
Head down the Seward Highway from Anchorage and take in the views of Turnagain Arm. Stop in Bird to bike all or part of the Bird-to-Gird Trail (12 miles one-way) or keep on south toward the trails in Girdwood. Pan for gold at a historic gold mine, or look for wildflowers in summer and blueberries in fall along the lower Winner Creek Trail , accessed, just past the Alyeska tram station, wander the flats at Moose Meadows, or head up to Virgin Creek Falls along the short half-mile trail (access from Timberline Drive). Grab an ice-cream cone or tasty snack at a local bakery or have a relaxing dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight at a lodge in Girdwood, or camp at a U.S. Forest Service campground in Portage (reservations required in advance). Please #RecreateResponsibly.
Watch for wildlife – and glaciers – in Portage. Start your drive down the Portage Highway. Of course, there’s guaranteed wildlife sightings at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where you can learn about the animals and their habitats. Then, stop at the Moose Flats Day Use Area to look for moose, bears, porcupines and other wildlife from the boardwalk trail or, starting in July, look for salmon along the Williwaw Nature Trail. You won’t be able visit the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center, which is closed this summer due to COVID-19 – or to see the ice of Portage Glacier – but you’ll still see plenty of blue ice in Portage Valley. Take an easy, up-valley hike along the Byron Glacier Trail for views of the hanging glacier. Be sure to keep an eye out for ice-worms, especially on cool days. They really do exist! Or, bike along the Trail of Blue Ice, accessible from the many pullouts and parking areas along the Portage Highway. Keep track of the different types of glaciers and other geologic features you’ll see like hanging glaciers, moraines, and glacial erratics – huge boulders left in the landscape as glaciers retreated.
Over night at a U.S. Forest Service campground in Portage Valley.
Tunnel to Whittier. Originally constructed during World War II as a railroad spur to the deep-water port in Whittier, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is the longest combined rail/vehicle tunnel in North America. Check the schedule for current opening times and head into the tunnel’s depths before emerging in Whittier. Hiking opportunities abound. For a moderate level hike, try X or go to the end of the road and head up to Horsetail Falls Trail. The longer Emerald Cove trail takes you through temperate rainforest to a beautiful rocky shore. Instead of a hike, you can always hit the water. Take a glacier/wildlife-viewing cruise into Prince William Sound or rent kayaks for a quiet paddle.
Overnight in Whittier, Portage, or back to Anchorage.