Winter hike to Byron Glacier Ice Caves
If you haven’t seen the blue of a glacier ice cave then it’s a must! There is one close to Anchorage called Bear Glacier Ice Caves.
Distance: 1.6 miles roundtrip to glacier. Elevation gain: 100 ft. Insane views. Ice caves to explore. Five glacial views. Unlimited hiking areas. Potential to camp higher up on a ridge.
To begin on this adventure, you first have to find the trailhead. Drive out on the highway to Girdwood, and turn left at the sign that says "Portage Glacier". Towards the end of the road, it Ys and you take a right, then another right. Follow this road, and the first parking lot on your right is the one for you. Unfortunately there are no bathrooms here, but if you're a true adventurer you won't mind going in the woods.
Start hiking along the trail into the woods. This is a semi-popular trail, and so is well maintained with gravel and wooden bridges. After about 20 minutes of hiking, the woods fade away and the trail dead-ends on the glacial moraine. From here, there is no set trail so feel free to go your own route. You can reach the foot of the glacier in less than an hour of hiking, and at that point there are a few options. You can either hike along the glacier's edge, and find ice caves and little streams, or you can head up to one of the ridges.
To the left is a ridge that overlooks Portage Glacier, but is quite a scramble to get up and down from. This ridge overlooks the entirety of Byron Glacier, along with Portage Glacier and 3 other glaciers across Portage Lake. It's a beautiful spot to have lunch and glacier-gaze. From here, it is possible to access the ridge and head to Byron Peak, however this is not recommended without climbing experience and safety gear.
Also I don’t reccamend going into the ice caves the views are nice from the outside. It is very dangerous inside the caves and people have died from falling ice.
The entire valley that Byron Glacier rests in is a beautiful valley with stunning views, and because of this, what can be planned for a short day hike can easily turn into an all day venture. It is an amazing place that constantly changes with the glacier, so get out there and enjoy it!