Visiting Byron Glacier, Alaska
Updated April 2022, Visiting Byron Glacier, Alaska was originally written in February 2020
A viewpoint for the glacier is accessible from the Byron Glacier Trailhead, by a short 0.8 mile walk along a maintained trail. You can continue onwards beyond the viewpoint to hike up onto the glacier, though this is at your own risk for obvious reasons.
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How To Get To Byron Glacier Trailhead
Byron Glacier is located not far off the Seward Highway that connects Anchorage with the Kenai Peninsula.
To reach the Byron Glacier Trailhead, turn off of the Seward Highway Portage Glacier Road (this is the same road that gives access to Portage Lake and Glacier, and the Whittier Tunnel). About 5 miles down Portage Glacier Road you’ll take a slight right onto Portage Lake Loop and a right off there onto Byron Glacier Road. The Byron Glacier Trailhead parking lot will be on your right side.
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The Hike To Byron Glacier Viewpoint
From the trailhead to the viewing point is about 0.8 miles in distance on a maintained gravel trail. At the Byron Glacier Viewpoint, there are benches to rest at before you head back or continue onwards toward the glacier.
The walk along the trail is relatively flat with only a couple of small hills. The first portion of the trail will take you through cottonwood and alder brush before it opens up and continues along Byron Creek.
Make sure and visit nearby Girdwood on your way to Byron Glacier
Hiking Out Onto Byron Glacier
A short hike beyond the viewpoint will bring you right to the glacier. You will need to go up a boulder hill and back down and you may need to wade through or jump over parts of the creek on the other side. Do be careful as the boulders out here can be quite slippery (I’ve fallen a time or two out here).
Another hazard to be aware of is avalanches, especially in the spring and early half of the summer. Byron Valley is very narrow with steep cliff-like walls and gets pretty heavy snowfall, so avalanches are quite common.
You can continue to hike up onto Byron Glacier but do be careful as glaciers, especially Byron Glacier is quite unstable.
The Byron Glacier Ice Caves
At times there are ice caves on Byron Glacier. I have been in the ice caves numerous times, but they frequently collapse and reform, sometimes appearing in different locations than previous.
If you are trying to view the Byron Glacier Ice Caves you’re best bet to locating them will be to ask other hikers coming down off the glacier if they’re there and how to reach them. Personally, I’ve seen them right at the bottom of the glacier, and other times I’ve seen them way up high, requiring a good 700 or so foot ascent to reach them.
With all this said, going inside of ice caves is a dangerous activity and not one to be taken lightly. In 2018 a woman died after the Byron Glacier Ice Cave collapsed, crushing her and injuring two others.
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Other Things To Do Near Byron Glacier
- Portage Glacier Lake Cruise: Book your Portage Lake & Glacier cruise here.
- Visit The Begich Boggs Visitor Center: Learn about the surrounding glaciers and Chugach National Forest. Admission is $5.
- Hike Over Portage Pass: Hike this 2.2 mile trail to the top of Portage Pass with views of the glacier next to it.
- Drive Through The Tunnel And Visit The Town Of Whittier: For $22 you can buy a return ticket to travel to Whittier and back via the Whitter Tunnel to check out the small fishing town on Prince William Sound.
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