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Prince William Sound - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Day Trip Report
Trip Dates: July 2005
Nearest City: Whittier, AK, USA
Difficulty: Moderate
Submitted by: Jeremy

Description:

This is an exciting little day trip you can take from the Port City of Whittier, which apparently was built during WWII as a "secret" pacific port. Seeing that you have to travel through a one lane three mile tunnel under a glacier just to get here I can imagine that it was an easy secret to keep back then.

Anyway, upon your arrival in Whittier go to the small boat harbor and launch, pay your launch and parking fee, and head out from the harbor, entering what is known as the "passage canal". Once you make it around the sea wall of the harbor, be very cautious as there are often many boats of all sizes coming out of this harbor, and they don't always look for kayakers. If one of the massive cruise ships is coming out I might personally head for shore and wait for it to pass, as the narrow channel can create massive wakes.

Once you have cleared the harbor proceed north, straight across the passage canal to the northern shore. Upon hitting the northern shore (about a 1 mile crossing) turn east and proceed along the coast. This is a rocky cliff with typically beautiful Alaska scenery. There are white waterfalls cascading down green cliffs to the ocean. As you proceed about two miles east you will come to an area with two spectacular waterfalls and several thousand Kittiwake gulls. Apparently this is their summer rookery, and it is a truly spectacular sight. I didn't think it was possible to cram this many gulls into such as small area, but they do it.

From the rookery turn south and make the one mile crossing of the passage canal back to the south shore. From here turn west back toward the harbor. On your way back you'll pass more forest scenery, and an active salmon stream pouring into the passage canal. Overall it is a seven mile loop, and a highly satisfying day trip for anyone in the Anchorage area.

Comments:

This is cold water, so if you are going alone I'd recommend you wear dry gear, even in the summer (I do). Beware of the boats, there are a lot, but you'll clear them as soon as you get out of sight of Whittier.

Accommodations:

Whittier is basically a WWII ghost town slowly turning into a tourist destination. There is a little lodge, a coffee shop, several kayak rental facilities, and the facilities for the cruise ships. The boat launch is just fine for kayakers, but a trailer mounted boat might have trouble because there is a drop off of several feet from the end of the boat ramp to the water (this might just be a tidal fluctuation).

Fees:

Ok, if you live in Alaska you know there is nothing for free here, so this is the breakdown of what I paid for a day trip out of Whittier.

$12.00---tunnel pass for car with kayak mounted on top
$8.25---fee for launch and recovery of a kayak at the harbor
$10.00----daily parking fee (there is also a cheaper lot that is only five dollars for all day, but it was a good quarter mile hike away.

Directions:

From Anchorage proceed south on HWY 1 for about 36 miles until you come to the sign for the Whittier tunnel. Turn left and follow the road until hitting the tunnel, where you will buy a ticket and wait in line to cross (the wait can be up to an hour, it is a one lane tunnel and the traffic will only go one direction each hour). Once you emerge from the tunnel you will immediately be in Whittier. Proceed past the cruise ship dock to the small boat harbor, here you can pay for parking and launch.

Resources:

They will give you a map of the city when you pay to travel through the tunnel. I used the maps from the national geographic "TOPO" program, and also a book called Prince William Sound, A Kayakers Paradise, by Paul Twardock.


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