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Byron Glacier, Alaska – A Family Friendly Hike Between Anchorage and Seward

Byron Glacier, Alaska – A Family Friendly Hike Between Anchorage and Seward

I’ve now made three trips to Alaska – two with the kids and one alone.  I’ve seen several glaciers from afar.  They are beautiful, blue and mysterious.

Until the most recent trip, I had never been very close to a glacier.  I’d never touched a glacier and had not even seen from closer than about a half mile away.  They are truly massive, and just not that easy to access.  You can get near them on boats, but if they are actively calving it can be dangerous to get too close.

Byron Glacier on Kenai Peninsula

I wanted to take the kids to a close encounter with a glacier.  All the ones in close proximity are  just too much of a hike, and we had my friend’s daughter with us as well.  She’s younger than my kids, so she’s even more limited to her ability to walk.  Matanuska is about two and a half hours outside of Anchorage and accessible by car, but almost six hours roundtrip in the car seemed like too much after a week full of activities.

I lucked into finding Byron Glacier, in the Chugach National Forest on the Kenai Peninsula.  It is not well publicized, but it is right next to the more popular Portage Glacier.

It is an easy hike that is only a little under two miles round-trip, and the path is almost completely even.  There is only about a 100 ft elevation change during the hike. There was some foot traffic, but it wasn’t what I would consider crowded.  Definitely family friendly!

Stream along Byron Glacier Trail in Chugach National Forest on Kenai Peninsula Alaska

The path to the glacier meanders along a stream.  The kids stopped often, taking the time to skip rocks across the stream.  They had so much fun doing that, they probably would have forgotten the glacier if I hadn’t been prodding them to keep going.

When you reach the end of the trail, the stream is on your left and is wider than much of the hike.  A wide snow field lies ahead of you with a glacial wall leading vertically from the snow.  To get to the snow, you have to walk over a small section of rocks.

We stayed on the snow field and didn’t venture onto the icy vertical section.  There were families higher than us, but I’m from Texas.  I’ve got zero glacier experience.  I didn’t think it was too prudent for me to go higher.  I’ve been subjected to enough Man vs Wild type TV shows by my husband to know glaciers aren’t a great idea to run around on all willy-nilly.

Child on Byron Glacier on Kenai Peninsula

I wish we would have allotted more time to playing at the glacier.  The kids really enjoyed it, and I did too.  There are few completely free activities in Alaska, and this is a must experience adventure I would have done even if we had to pay to play.  Definitely add it to your list of things to do if you are in either Anchorage or Seward.

Children at Byron Glacier

Getting to Byron Glacier

At mile 79, Seward Highway (49 miles south of Anchorage), turn north onto Portage Valley Road.  Travel 6 miles (past Begich, Boggs Visitor Center) to trailhead parking.  It is just prior to the Portage Glacier boat dock.  Parking was free.  Map and more information at the Chugach National Forest website.

Child Pretending Reindeer at Byron Glacier in Alaska

  1. Donna Hull 25 August, 2013

    My husband and I will be in the Anchorage area in a couple of weeks. This sounds like an easy glacier hike that we can add toward the end of the trip. Thanks for the info!

    • Amy Moore 26 August, 2013

      Definitely head down here, and do the Portage Glacier boat ride right next door as well. You can do both of them in the morning, and then have the afternoon to go into Seward or go to the AWCC. I didn’t get a chance to go this trip, but when we went 2 years ago it was pretty awesome.

  2. Keryn @ walking on travels 26 August, 2013

    Thanks for linking up Amy. My aunt just got back from Alaska and she has me dreaming about a trip out that way. One of these days we will head that way.

    • Amy Moore 28 August, 2013

      We head back as often as we can, even though we rarely repeat destinations. It is a beautiful place!

  3. Cam @ Traveling Canucks 27 August, 2013

    Looks like a fun place! We have been toying with the idea of taking a cruise from Vancouver to Alaska with our wee man. He’s still a bit young for glacier hikes, but this looks fun

    • Amy Moore 28 August, 2013

      Also, consider the Alaska Ferry. It is a great budget alternative. This is flat and short enough that you could pretty easily carry your little guy?

  4. Jessica 27 August, 2013

    These pictures are just otherworldly. I love the last one with the kids-such vibrant colors.

    • Amy Moore 28 August, 2013

      I’m thinking that’s going to end up on our wall 🙂

  5. Jody Halsted 30 August, 2013

    Alaska is one of our bucket list destinations. Caelan just finished reading a book about glaciers and now she really wants to visit!

  6. Tonya 30 August, 2013

    I love Alaska! I really couldn’t believe how beautiful the glaciers were. To see them in person is breathtaking.

  7. Jennifer Howze 31 August, 2013

    Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures. Someday…

  8. Becca@R We There Yet Mom? 31 August, 2013

    What a gorgeous state – I can’t wait to go there one day!! Thanks for linking up this week – hope you are well!

  9. Cheryl 10 September, 2013

    What gorgeous photos of Alaska, Amy. Everyone I know that visits comes back with these amazing photos which makes me want to plan a trip out there soon. Just waiting for my youngest one to be fully steady on his feet before we do a trip that requires a lot of walking.

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