Alaska Region Viewing Area

LOCATION and PHOTOS

Moose Flats
Moose Flats located on the west end of the Trail of Blue Ice.

Aquiliga formosa
Western columbine (Aquiliga formosa) along the Trail of Blue Ice.

Looking up the Portage Valley from west to east, Portage Lake is in the background.
Looking up the Portage Valley from west to east, Portage Lake is in the background.

Papaver alboroseum
Portage poppy (Papaver alboroseum) growing along the trailside.

Trail of Blue Ice

Forest: Chugach National Forest

District: Glacier Ranger District

Description: Travelling the length of Portage Valley, the Trail of Blue Ice offers many spectacular views of glaciers, wildlife, salmon, scenery, and of course wildflowers! The five-mile long trail (one way) is an easily accessible, flat and wide gravel path with boardwalks and bridges. You can pick up the trail at the Begich Boggs Visitor Center and end at the Moose Flats Day Use Area (or you can take the trail in the reverse direction). This trail is ideal for hiking or biking and links all of the developed recreation sites in Portage Valley. Along the way are views of Byron, Middle, and Explorer glaciers. The trail also winds by the Williwaw Fish Viewing Platform, offering a chance to see spawning salmon. In addition, there is potential to see moose or black bear on or near the trail.

Wildflower Viewing: Wildflowers are abundant in a myriad of habitats along the entire trail. Because this is a glacially influenced valley, early successional shrub habitat types are common, as well as pockets of spruce and cottonwood habitats on side slopes and glacial moraines. In addition, the valley contains many wetlands, riparian areas, natural and man-made ponds. Common flowering plants include seacoast angelica (Angelica lucida), fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), dwarf fireweed (Chamerion latifolium), nagoonberry (Rubus arcticus), tall Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium acutiflorum), western columbine (Aquilegia formosa), Nootka lupine (Lupinus nootkatensis), goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), fiveleaf bramble (Rubus pedatus), starflower (Trientalis europaea), and liverleaf wintergreen (Pyrola asarifolia). The relatively rare pale poppy (Papaver alboroseum) grows abundantly in Portage Valley and is commonly seen along the Trail of Blue Ice. Wetland areas are dominated by grasses and sedges and also include buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata) and marsh fivefinger (Potentilla palustris). For an added bonus, visit the native plant garden at the Begich Boggs Visitor Center.

Safety First: Although the Trail of Blue Ice is extremely popular and receives high use, there have been several encounters with black bears. When travelling in bear country we recommend that you make a lot of noise to make your presence known, travel in groups, and carry bear spray. Also be prepared for inclement weather.

Directions: From Anchorage travel southeast on the Seward Highway for approximately 50 miles and turn left onto the Portage Highway. To access the trail from the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center, travel approximately 5 miles on the Portage Highway, take the right-hand fork and follow signs to the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center. To access the trail from the Moose Flats Day Use area, turn left onto the Portage Highway and park at the Moose Flats Day Use Area and follow the sign to the Trail of Blue Ice trailhead.

Ownership and management: USDA Forest Service, Chugach National Forest, Glacier Ranger District (907) 783-3242.

Closest Town: Girdwood, Alaska