Byron Glacier, One of Alaska’s Most Accessible Glaciers
Updated August 2022 | Originally written August 2022
Located only an hour and 10 minutes from Anchorage and requiring only a short walk on a maintained path most of the way, Byron Glacier is one of Alaska’s easiest-to-visit glaciers. A visit to Byron Glacier pairs well with a visit to nearby Portage Glacier, a trip through the tunnel to Whittier, or a side trip from the fun little town of Girdwood.
Getting to the Byron Glacier Trailhead
Byron Glacier is located near Portage, just off of the Seward Highway that connects Anchorage to the remainder of the Kenai Peninsula.
You’ll turn off of the Seward Highway at Portage Glacier Road and after about 5 miles you’ll take a slight right onto Portage Lake Loop. A short distance later, you will take another right onto Byron Glacier Road and arrive at a parking lot for the trailhead on the right side of the road.
Address: 1500 Byron Glacier Rd, Girdwood, AK 99587
Hiking to the Byron Glacier Viewpoint
Officially the trail to Byron Glacier is 0.8 miles (1.6 miles return) to the Byron Glacier Viewpoint. You will know you’ve reached the viewpoint when you arrive at the benches and have views of the glacier ahead.
The path up to the viewpoint is along a maintained gravel path and is mostly flat with a couple of small inclines and declines, meandering through the forest at first before reaching Byron Creek and following it toward Byron Glacier.
Continuing to Hike onto Byron Glacier
From the Byron Glacier Viewpoint, it’s possible to continue walking to get up closer or even up onto Byron Glacier. About one mile of walking beyond the viewpoint will bring you to the glacier.
There is no established path beyond the Byron Glacier Viewpoint, so you will need to route find your way to the glacier. There is a large hill of boulders that you will need to go up and over to reach the glacier.
If continuing up onto the glacier you’ll have to go uphill. Do take caution as the rocks can be very slippery. Trekking poles may come in handy here.
Note that getting close to and walking on glaciers can be hazardous and even deadly, so use caution. It is only recommended to walk on a glacier if you already have glacier travel experience.
The Byron Glacier Ice Cave
There is sometimes an ice cave that forms here at Byron Glacier. It’s worth noting that these caves shift, change, and collapse frequently so there is a good chance that there may not be an ice cave at all when you visit Byron Glacier.
The best way to find out if there is an ice cave at Byron Glacier is to ask any hikers you may cross paths with coming back off the glacier if they saw any and where. I have been to Byron Glacier several times and have found the ice caves anywhere from right at the face of the glacier to a 700 foot steep scramble up.
As mentioned earlier, glacier travel experience is recommended if you’re wanting to go up onto Byron Glacier. This is not a safe endeavor there have been deaths and injuries on Byron Glacier in the past.