Summers in Alaska can be gray and depressing filled with nothing but rain or they can be priceless with some rain but also some absolutely beautiful days! This summer has been priceless. If you love the outdoors than stay tuned because I have some awesome pictures from trips within Anchorage and some not so far from home. One of the great thinks about Anchorage is your centrally located with amazing places only a short drive away.
BYRON GLACIER TRAIL
The start of the summer began at Byron Glacier trail. About an hour south of Anchorage there is an easy walking trail that leads to priceless views of Byron Glacier. If you go early enough in the spring/summer season there is usually a large body of snow from an avalanche, within 30 minutes of the trail head, you can walk over and go further to explore the glacier. The day before we went there had been a fatal accident along one of the caves due to the snow and ice melting so we stopped once we reached the snow.
The running water was so cool it just kept shouting out for us to jump in! the chill glacier water gives off is perfect on the hot summer days. And having access to snow in the summer makes for amazing and cool snowball fights. The trail itself is super easy. no serious inclines. Its like an unpaved walk in the park. But watch out for mosquito’s! Walking on a trail surrounded by lush trees and cool running water makes for serious mosquito bait. It is well worth it though when you reach the open rocky glacier valley you will come out speechless. The blue from the towering glacier is illuminated even on a cloudy day. The cool glacier water of Byron creek inspires a dip to escape the heat.
Although it is a short trail and opens to a large valley never count out wildlife. Always be prepared for bears. Just around the corner from the trail head is the Portage Glacier. There is a very informative center, Begich Boggs Visitor Center, where you can learn the history of the area. When your done there, walk down the steps to the waters edge of Portage Lake.
Early enough in the summer you can see large chunks of ice floating in the water. There is a rocky beach to the left of the parking lot that leads you on a short walk but amazing views of the glacier. For a closer look , hop on a 1 hour cruise that will take you close to the glacier and occasionally see fractures of ice break off and thunder into the water. For this summer the cost is $39 for adults and $19 for children (cruise only).
INDEPENDENCE MINE/HATCHER PASS
Only an hour and a half north of Anchorage is Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass. many buildings still stand as historical records of the gold boom in the 1940’s. Some buildings are closed off for safety purposes. There are a couple open to the public that display artifacts from the operating days of the mine.
There are many trails that take you around the buildings and to the entrance of one of the Water tunnel. Stepping along these historical paths and peering into the windows that use to house workers, office buildings where the booming gold business took place is very humbling with the simple luxuries we have today. Walking through the restored Miners Managers house tells the story of the lives of the workers through the antiques once used to light their way, type letters, weigh their gold as well as many photosIf your looking for a snack, lunch or a souvenir there is another building restored that has been turned into a gift shop/café.The trails are pretty easy, no heavy climbing as long as you stay within the Independence Mine location.
The sound of a rumbling stream coming down the mountainside follows you through every trail. Wild flowers flow in enchanting blankets along the mountain’s. Wildlife? Never count them out. While we were there we saw a pretty chubby marmot. He was being nosey, traveling through the pipes that connect to the mine. You can often hear their chittering as you walk the trail as they echo in the pipes. Watch your step or you could step in one of the marmot tunnel opening.
Even in the summer time you can still find remnants of snow along the paths. There is nothing like sitting in snow during a 70 degree heat wave! in the center of the “village” there is a covered area with picnic tables perfect for a lunch with a 360 view of history and mother nature at its finest.
The only cost is $5 for parking. If you don’t stop on your way to the park you better stop on your way back to view the Little Susitna river. Its definitely not little, but it is a magnificent raging glacial water spectacular. The water rages so loud along this stretch you can barely hear yourself.
As the water surges between the boulders scattered along the river you find yourself in a trance admiring the white and blue glacial waves. Truly a spectacular sight. Along the way home you will also find a small gas station that tote the worlds best ice cream.
It was certainly very good and the flavor list is endless! Definitely worth the stop for a cool treat!