Whittier: tons of blueberries this year
Whittier has a bumper crop of blueberries this year, and these are the huge ones that make the bushes look like little grape vines because there are so many berries on most of the decent bushes.
The berries are ready to pick, in that they pull free easily and the stem stays behind, but they're a bit on the tart side (and my hands are so purple they look like I caught them in the car door). I don't know if they'll sweeten up before they start to shrivel, so I can't say that giving them another week or two will make them sweeter. I do know that they'll make great jam. I left plenty of berries for others to pick, of course.
Where are the blueberries in Whittier? I've cleaned up on salmonberries there many times, but never blueberries.
Please share the location of this bountiful field..
Several people have p.m.'d me about this, so I'll share parts of my replies. I'll first add that a couple friends have told me that Arctic Valley and the Powerline Trail are really productive as well this year. If you saw the Daily News this morning, they reported the same thing. I'll probably hit Arctic Valley later this week myself. I don't pick near the parking area, since that gets hit early and hard. I prefer hiking the trail up to the saddle and starting my picking from that point, partly because the views get better and better when you head up that way and I've always found great berry patches all over the hillsides up there on both sides of the trail. Anyway...
There are tons of places to find blueberries in Whittier, especially if you don't mind walking in the woods. Take bear spray if you do any bushwacking, just to be safe. I always do, because a few years ago I was picking berries and suddenly realized there was a bear about 25 feet away feeding on berries. I hadn't seen it because it was kind of dense.
The best place to scout for berries is just about anywhere along Shotgun Cove Road. If you know where the Anchor Inn is, across the train tracks and just past the public works building in Whittier, Shotgun Cove Road is the road across the intersection from the Anchor Inn that climbs the hill past the abandoned WWII building. [Edit: Actually, I just found out that the street across from the Anchor Inn is called Blackstone. Take that up the hill until Shotgun Cove Road forks off to the right. Sorry for the error. You can look at a little map of Whittier here: http://www.whittieralaskachamber.org/whittier09.pdf]
You can start looking for berries along the road anywhere it's wide enough to park. Or, keep going up the road until the parking area at the creek. It's hard to miss, especially since the road ends about 200 yards further on. Check the areas around there. If you get there early in the day, wear either rain pants or polypro pants, because the bushes will be pretty damp, and either wear Xtra Tuffs or take spare socks for later. Bug spray is a good thing to have as well. If you work your way back into the woods you'll often find clearings where the berries seem to have colonized. Like raspberries, the high bush blueberries seem to like to grow on the edges of disturbed areas like trails, roads, or natural openings in the woods.
There's some private property along the road up there, so be mindful of the property rights of the landowners. I think most of the private land is posted, and fortunately there's plenty of public land back in there.
Another place to check, if you like salmon berries, is at the trailhead for Portage Pass. Take the first right you can take right after the tunnel, maybe about a quarter mile. It's posted with a sign that says "trailhead access" or something like that. You turn right, cross the train tracks and take the dirt road to the gravel road to the trailhead a few hundred yards ahead on the right. It gets picked over pretty early in the season, but if you cut back into the woods there are usually berries. Also, there's a little gravel road that forks to the right near the trailhead (sort of doubling back as if toward the main road from the tunnel) and I've found berries down there as well. You can also go past the trailhead road and continue on up the dirt road and look for wide places to park and explore.
One other place is the road that goes past the tank farms to the left after you leave the tunnel. There are lots of good places to search back in there. The road splits off and heads into the canyon on the left.
In other words, tons of places to look. There are great places back in the woods that you have to hike a little to get to, especially up Shotgun Cove Road past the part where they're crushing rock to extend the road. I picked for about an hour and a half the other day and got enough berries that I made up 18 jars and still have more berries for doing some baking or topping desserts...or making more jam.
(Side note: across the road from the parking area up Shotgun Cove is a real pretty waterfall a couple hundred yards back in the woods. You'll hear it. It's always worth taking a break to have a look.)
Last edited by Bibico; 08-11-2009 at 19:40.
Reason: Correction of directions
was at artic valley last week got a bunch up on top of the hill. there were TONS on the bottom of the ski hill but they werent' ripe yet, probably are now, but probably got plundered over the weekend. like he said don't be lazy and climb up the hill (95% people don't go more than 100 feet up the hill),