Hike Horsetail Falls Trail in Whittier, Alaska

This boardwalk trail climbs through the forest and ends at a long-dropping waterfall down a sheer rock face.

It’s August in Alaska and that means it’s time to go berry picking! We headed out to Whittier to try our luck at foraging blueberries and ended up hiking Horsetail Falls Trail.

The trail is one of the best hikes in Whittier and takes you through the forest along steps, a bridge, a boardwalk, and switchbacks, before arriving at a waterfall.

In this post, I’m going to share how to hike Horsetail Falls Trail in Whittier, Alaska.

Horsetail Falls Trail Summary

Traditional Land: Alutiiq (Visit Native-Land.ca to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)
Distance: 2 miles roundtrip
Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Dogs: Yes

Quick Tips

Horsetail Falls Trail Directions

  1. From Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway
  2. Follow the Seward Highway and take a left on Portage Glacier Road
  3. Drive through the Whittier tunnel and continue onto West Camp Road
  4. Turn right onto Whittier Street and continue onto Blackstone Road
  5. Turn right onto Shotgun Cove Road
  6. Turn right onto Reservoir Road (a sign points to Horsetail Falls)
  7. Continue until the end of the road and park near the metal gate

Hike Horsetail Falls Trail in Whittier

Horsetail Falls Trailhead

The trail to Horsetail Falls starts behind the closed metal gate. You will follow an old gravel road for about 0.25 miles before it turns into a smaller, narrow trail.

We started to look for berries in the bushes along the road and noticed they were heavily picked over. All we could see were rotten salmonberries. And we weren’t the only ones looking. There were a lot of people on the trail in search of berries.

Along The Boardwalk

We continued onto the actual trail and before we knew it, we were following a boardwalk through the spruce forest.

It was a beautiful bluebird day in Whittier (surprisingly), and the sunlight gleamed through the trees. It was magical.

Picking Blueberries

It didn’t take us long before we found our first blueberry patches! I can’t even tell you how many berries were in the area, but they were abundant.

We spent an hour and a half foraging for blueberries and salmonberries. Occasionally, we found a few salmonberries and watermelon berries. We filled up an entire container full of berries in such a short amount of time.

After feeling satisfied with our bounty, we continued to hike to Horsetail Falls.

Climbing Through Forest

The trail continued to climb through the spruce forest along a wooden boardwalk and stone steps before breaking out into alders and an open meadow.

As you start to climb, you’ll be able to see Whittier and Passage Canal behind you. So, don’t forget to look back at it.

A Bear-y Encounter

We made it to a point where the view opened up and we could see the waterfall sheeting over the sheer rock face of Blackstone Ridge and that’s when we ran into a couple with a small dog. They told us they saw a black bear on the trail about 50-60 yards away.

The trail looked like it was about to curve to the left and we decided to just hike to the corner. The moment we started hiking again was the moment we heard sounds from a bear making its way through the bushes close to us. NOPE.

We decided to turn around at that point to avoid any bear encounters. We made a good decision that day because I found some information online that said there was a black bear that didn’t seem to be scared of humans.

Horsetail Falls Viewpoint

The trail to Horsetail Falls ends at a platform at about 700-foot elevation. This out-and-back trail is less than two miles roundtrip and will take you around 1.5 hours to finish. It will take you A LOT longer if you plan on berry picking.

If you want to go beyond the waterfall, you can continue the hike up to Blackstone Bay Vista.

Happy hiking!

Pin For Later

Hike Horsetail Falls Trail in Whittier, Alaska. This boardwalk trail is 2 miles roundtrip and will take you through a magical forest. #alaska #travelalaska #hikingalaska #hiking #whittieralaska

Do you have any questions about hiking Horsetail Falls Trail? Let me know in the comments.

About Andrea Kuuipo

I was born and raised in Anchorage and have been able to travel to many places around Alaska. As an Alaska Travel Blogger, I love sharing my favorite things to see and do in my home state to help others plan an incredible trip!

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