The first quarter-mile (0.4 km) is through dense cottonwood and alder passing a few small cascades. But this may not be the best option if you want to enjoy the views without feeling rushed. It’s also the perfect place to pull out that sandwich that you’ve been thinking about the entire hike On the water, you can see the glaciers calving (when chunks of ice break off), which is a crazy expereince! Come prepared to hike the Harding Icefield Trail with layers, water, and trekking poles. Where is the trail head for harding icefield exit glacier hiking trail in alaska. United States - Hike to Harding Icefield - My husband and I are travelling to Alaska during the last 2 weeks of July. When driving, you’ll see a clear sign signaling the turnoff point from the Seward Highway: mile 3 to Exit Glacier Road. There’s a reason why it’s considered the best hike in the Kenai Peninsula! Well, the former base, the glacier has been progressively receding and first few minutes of walking will take you past a number of markers pointing out where the glacier use to reach not so long ago. Starting on the valley floor, the trail winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breath-taking view of the Icefield. We could have stayed much longer admiring the icefield, but the day was getting towards the end of the day and we had to start on the return. The Harding Icefield Trail starts at the base of Exit Glacier. This enormous wall of ice descends the mountain from the Harding Icefield and goes down all the way to Resurrection River. , What’s one thing you’re grateful for? Reaching it takes time, sore legs, and patience, but the view of the icefield is incredibly rewarding! After leaving the Harding Icefield, we continued south on smaller glaciers. Though the elevation profile is not always even, each of these sections is right around 2 miles so it breaks the day up nicely for objectives. (On a larger scale, it lies in the Kenai Peninsula about 125 miles south of Anchorage. Le sentier longe une cascade et sa difficulté est évaluée comme difficile. It’s not uncommon to spot black bears, brown bears, mountain goats, moose, marmots, birds, or anything else along the way. Harding Ice Field Trail is a 8.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Seward, Alaska that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. We planned to exit on the Grewingk Glacier, which would provide an easy summer trail to access Kachemak Bay and a boat ride to Homer. Answer 1 of 11: Hi all, I'll be in Seward at the end of June, and I'm interested in hiking the Harding Icefield Trail. The nearby town of Seward averages 72 inches of rain per year. With the shuttle, you’ll have to be careful not to miss the return time, and there is barely any cell service around the Exit Glacier area. The roads leading to the trail can be impassable by car, so they’re closed once heavy snows come in. Review trail conditions and the weather before starting your hike. When you’re in glacial country, nothing is ever simple and the park service suggests 6-8 hours for this adventure though you can go a shorter way up the trail for a killer view of Exit Glacier too! Today wa, Tis the season for love and giving! While much of the first half is hiking a rocky trail through the treeline, there are plenty of views along the way and it’s certainly not a boring trail at any point. But honestly, I don’t think I would’ve had the strength to go all the way to the top! About 3.9 miles in, we could finally see what looked like the end of the planet, and in some ways it was. As you climb the switchbacks, you’ll be just a short ways from the lower portion of Exit Glacier and a few partial clearings provide great encouragement to endure the constant uphill push along this section – rest assured that those views will only get better too! You also get a glimpse of the Icefield along with the majestic mountains surrounding the area. Harding Icefield Trail. 33 Crucial Things to Know Before Visiting Alaska, Guide to Seward: The 18 Best Things to Do in Seward, 12 Things Alaska is Famous For (Don’t Miss These on Your Alaska Trip! I have spent some wonderful nights on the edge of Harding Icefield with my tent watching some beautiful sunsets and sunrises. Covering approximately 700 square miles, and at a maximum depth of roughly 4000ft, the Harding Icefield is the largest ice field entirely within the United States. However, the best time to hike the Harding Icefield Trail is during the summer months, primarily between June and October. This strenuous trail leaves from the same trailhead as the Exit Glacier Trail. Where is the trail head for harding icefield exit glacier hiking trail in alaska. Here’s a popular boat tour option that does just that! Necessary warning: While Exit Glacier & the Harding Icefield Trail may just be a “day hike,” it’s nothing to take lightly. Although the distance from the parking lot to the top of the trail is roughly 10 miles round trip, the trail itself is 8.2 miles round trip. The forest slowly opens up as the trail steepens and you start some long switchbacks. Ascending the rocky (or snowy) slopes, the trail is mostly defined but does occasionally split as the ever-changing terrain has forced people to forge new routes around eroding surfaces You’re not likely to get lost on a clear day but paying attention to the terrain ahead will help you avoid sketchier sections and minimize impact by sticking to the developed paths (always stay off vegetation and avoid short-cutting switchbacks which damages the trail and environment.). Covering approximately 700 square miles, and at a maximum depth of roughly 4000ft, the Harding Icefield is the largest ice field entirely within the United States. Up to this point, however, people had walked only on the icefiel… Feel free to edit / quote / embed with credit and for editorial or commercial use, contact me. Thanks for following along on my adventures! Though the trail is mostly dirt, rock, or potentially snow, you’ll start out on the paved Exit Glacier path just beyond the Nature Center. You should follow the ‘leave no trace’ principals to a tee. Check out this post on 33 crucial things to know before visiting Alaska for some more useful information! What you see in the photo is Exit Glacier as it stretches down from the Harding Icefield. View over Harding Icefield from end of trail. Once you’re in the parking lot your hiking adventure will begin right by the Exit Glacier Nature Center. Going the distance to the end of the established trail is incredible but really there are a thousand views along the way to take in. If you're ready to share your ideas, stories, and adventures with others, check out my post on how to start a blog. Seward is packed with all types of accommodations- we stayed at Resurrection Lodge on the Bay and loved it! Yup, it’s literally a field of ice, hence the name. The temperatures are mostly in the 70s during the daytime and 40s at night. Over 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, but Exit Glacier is the only one you can hike beside. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. I'm in moderately good shape so I think I should be able to handle the hike. The Harding Icefield trailhead is on the right side of the path. HGL007. The 8.2-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail is a spectacular day hike. The trail itself is only 3.8 miles out, but you'll need to access it via the Exit Glacier Paved Path, which adds to the overall distance. How to hike harding icefield exit glacier trail. Helicopter rides, on the other hand, offer a unique vantage point and are an awesome choice if you have limited time. First, you’ll wind through the forest, then, through a beautiful tundra meadow, and lastly, rocky terrain. You get to see the glaciers and the snow-capped peaks from a birds-eye view with no obstructions! Location: 60.181412, -149.663361. Just a few hours away from Anchorage on one of the most scenic drives in Alaska, it deserves your visit! We saw a black bear way off in the distance while we were at the Cliffs area (more on The Cliffs in a bit. There are plenty of paths around to different viewpoints in the rocky hills above the Harding Icefield as well as a few trails down to its edge. The first quarter-mile (0.4 km) is through dense cottonwood and alder passing a few small cascades. It’s seriously Lord of the Rings meets Game of Thrones fantasy level stuff and if that’s not enough still, just check out the photos below. We actually didn’t get to go all the way to the icefield due to a storm that rolled in. ), What to Wear in Alaska: An All-Season Packing Guide. Do I need those hiking pants to keep the bottom part of pants from getting wet? If you don’t have a car, you can take advantage of the shuttle services that depart from Seward. As you climb the hill to reach it, your feet will be happy to know that the best icefield views are just a few minutes above. Parking is limited so consider carpooling in and be sure to stock up on snacks and hiking essentials before you head to the park (likely in Anchorage.). Check out the best things to do in Seward here! The Cliff is halfway through the entire trail. To squeeze the most out of the Harding Icefield you can enjoy the hike by the day then camp overnight. A steep, four-mile trail leads from the ranger station at Exit Glacier up to the edge of the icefield, affording visitors with a spectacular view and skilled mountaineers with ready access to the ice. Unfortunately you’ll also have to hike on the road to the trail head, which is closed to traffic in the winter. You’ll find intertwined trails which means you can do multiple routes without starting over. A shorter hike up the trail commands impressive panoramas of the valley floor, Exit Glacier, and the Harding Icefield. Proceed for another 8.4 miles and the road will lead you straight to the parking lot of the Exit Glacier Nature Center. You’ll see a path split off from the main path on your left. While it’s not a large structure, it does offer an interesting perspective in the otherwise in-human environment around. You experience roughly 1000 feet of elevation gain per mile! This is remote terrain with regular wildlife encounters (bears most certainly included) across a steep trail possibly with ice, snow, or water crossings. And if you’re heading to Alaska, here are a few posts you might find helpful: Your email address will not be published. The forest slowly opens up as the trail steepens and you start some long switchbacks. The eight mile (round-trip) trail begins by following Exit Glacier, but then climbs steeply and eventually ends overlooking the massive Harding Icefield, the largest icefield entirely within the US, which feeds Exit Glacier and about 40 other glaciers. Let’s get into everything you’ll need to know before setting out on the Harding Icefield Hike. Starting on the valley floor, the trail winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breath-taking view of the Icefield. Be sure to dress in layers so that it’s easy to remove or add clothes as the temperature changes. As you make your way there, you won’t need to look at your map or anything else to know that you have arrived at the end of the line as you find yourself staring out at a landscape of ice. We arrived at the Harding Icefield Trail just north of Seward, Alaska mid-morning on the 4th of July. I highly recommend a helicopter tour like this one while you’re in Alaska. Ideally, start before 10am. If time is a factor, set aside at least two days to explore the massive Kenai Fjords National Park, Resurrection Bay (pictured above), and Seward. Required fields are marked *. The Harding Icefield in Kenai Fjords National Park is truly a wonder to behold! FYI, most product links on my site are affiliate links, which means that I may earn a commission from advertising or affiliate programs. And you’ll definitely want to keep your eyes open the whole time for wildlife! Beyond the incredible glacier views, the hills you will be hiking are rather amazing to look at too and on a clear day, you’ll also be able to see plenty of other glaciers on neighboring mountains. I’m a nature-obsessed, beauty-finding, Jesus-loving dreamer with a serious case of wanderlust. The view you see in the photo above is not even from the top of the hike- only from halfway! There is plenty of wildlife to be found around the Harding Icefield! The icefield looks like it goes as far as the eye can see (it’s over 700 square miles), and is almost like looking at the horizon over the ocean. It was a warm, sunny July day when my wife and I hiked the Harding Icefield trail. You may also find yourself crossing snow & ice for much of the upper trail so be sure to check with the rangers about the need for microspikes and / or crampons before heading out! The 7.4-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail is a spectacular day hike. Follow trail along Exit Glacier ridge; best photos in summer twilight . The network of both walking and hiking trails leads to different viewpoints of Exit Glacier. While there is plenty more to see going on ahead, this is not a trail where you must top out to get a view. My legs already felt like jelly by the time I got to the Top of the Cliff viewpoint! Located atop Exit Glacier where it stretches for 700 square miles, the Harding Icefield is worth the climb. This doesn’t raise prices- it sometimes may actually lower them! Location: 60.181816, -149.656311. The whole trail takes approximately 8 hours: about four hours to hike up and about 3-4 hours to descend. Your days will be packed to the brim with mesmerizing mountain views, incredible glaciers, varied trails, and lots of wildlife. Instead of lighting up a campfire, you should consider using a stove. This is a very different photo than what I usually, Moana vibes What’s your favorite Disney mov, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! Also it was my first time seeing a bear in the wild!). The tent should either be on the snow or bare ground (to preserve the area’s fragile vegetation). The strenuous 4-mile Harding Icefield Trail has stunning views of Exit Glacier and the mile Harding Icefield. Expect to cross over plenty of water along the last mile of the trail as you get closer to the melting snowpack above (waterproof boots or shoes are a serious help on this trail.). You should dig a small hole to do your ‘business’. So what is this icefield you’ll be hiking to, anyway? The town is right outside the park, so it’s a short drive away. In any event, reaching the trailhead is simple enough not exactly in the middle of town. We were excited about what our day would bring. For my hike, which started out on a nice day with just light rain, that meant snow by the top as you can see in the photos! As you top out from the cliff overlook (another main great break point if you want to push a little further), the trail cuts further into the hill and away from the glacier. Tempting as it is, I strongly suggest staying off the ice unless you are experienced in (and ready for) glacial travel – and again, respect the fragile environment you are in! The 7.4-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail is a spectacular day hike. Here you’ll find a ranger station with updated trail and area conditions, restrooms, potable water, and a few basic supplies in the bookstore. HGL006. Le sentier offre plusieurs activités et sa meilleure utilisation est de mai à octobre. For physically fit hikers, a strenuous four-mile trail parallels the glacier’s north edge on a 3,000-foot ascent to the ice field, offering spectacular views of the glacier and surrounding mountains along the way. You should set up your tent at least 1/8 miles from the trail. Starting on the valley floor, the trail winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breath-taking view of the Icefield. Most parts of Kenai Fjords National Park can only be accessed by water. Trail Guide: Hiking to Alaska’s Exit Glacier & Harding Icefield (8.2 miles / 3500′ / 6+ hours) Trail Guides October 19, 2017 Long before I reached the last marker post, the Harding Icefield Trail at Exit Glacier had earned a place as one of my top 5-day hikes ever. What's yo, Weekend vibes ✌️ Anyone else wish they were in. You can also camp along the trail under some conditions. My recommendation: opt to push through to the Top of the Cliff (2.4 miles). The End of the Trail. 5. The 8.2 mile out-and-back route carries visitors through the upper alpine areas of the park to viewpoints of the vast Harding Icefield. The Trail. It is considered a challenging day hike and mainly suitable for the physically well-prepared. And trust me, once you’re done with this hike, your legs will feel too much like jelly to do anything else the rest of the day! The best map of the trail route that I’ve seen can be found @ These conditions can make hiking impossible (and in the worst case scenario can even trigger avalanches!). There is a free ‘tent only’ campground close to the Exit Glacier Nature Center. There is a trail shelter at the top, but it’s used for emergencies only. So if completing the entire trail seems outside of your wheelhouse, there are great viewpoints just a couple of miles into the hike. COPYRIGHT © 2020 | PRIVACY POLICY | Website designed by Alley Digital | Exclusive Member of Mediavine Travel. HGL008 Holgate Glacier and Aialik Glacier are the most popular ones to see by boat. There are a few trails that lead from the parking lot to various parts of the lower section of Exit Glacier. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter for all of my travel updates and blogging/influencer tips! This trail is a tough day hike, gaining 3,000 feet of … And a couple of hikers told us they saw a moose and its calf cross the trail right in front of them! With a boat ride, you also enjoy wildlife and marine life spotting opportunities! If you’re worried about taking this hike on yourself, there are guided treks available for a rather reasonable price from several local operators just outside the park. Even without socks, the hike up the Harding Icefield Trail is incredible. If you’re looking for more weekend getaways from Anchorage, check out this post! Glaciers And Glory: The Harding Icefield Trail. You will begin the hike to Harding Icefield in the Exit Glacier area. Alternatively, you can opt for an Airbnb as well! Sewardresidents generally ignored the huge icefield west of town before 1922. Check out this post on 33 crucial things to know before visiting Alaska for some more useful information!). It has all of the logistics on how exactly to create your own website! It’s one of about 40 glaciers that descend out of the massive Harding Icefield. By this point, you may be in an entirely different climate than the trailhead now almost a mile below. (You can see the view from the main area of the lodge in the photo above.). An icefield is actually a large area of interconnected glaciers. We started at the highway junction where the highway to Seward branches off from the one to Homer. Starting on the valley floor, the trail winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to … The first you’ll reach is Marmot Meadows. This is the log of a ten day trip down the Kenai Peninsula. The weather can be unpredictable and the winds traveling down the mountain can be pretty chilly. Click on the picture for a map of our route. The shuttle drops you at the parking lot then picks you up later in the afternoon. Thanks for supporting my blog by purchasing through these links! Kenai Fjords National Park is technically open throughout the year. Long before I reached the last marker post, the Harding Icefield Trail at Exit Glacier had earned a place as one of my top 5-day hikes ever. The alpine flora can take a while to grow, especially because this trail is highly trafficked. From there, the icefield at the top stretches as far as your eyes can see. Another benefit of visiting in summer is the mild, temperate weather. However, the challenging, strenuous climb makes the hike seem longer. You can also charter a boat and take in the views at a leisurely pace. I’ve quit my 9-5 to become a travel blogger, and my goal is to show others how they can too! Here’s a popular boat tour option that does just that! They give you amazing views of Exit Glacier and partial views of the icefield. And if you love your full time job, stick around for travel tips and inspiration! Harding Ice Field Trail est un sentier allez-retour de 8.2 miles très fréquenté situé près de Seward, Alaska. When you’ve had your fill of photos (and lunch), head back down the way you came and enjoy a couple more hours of amazing views as you do so! I’d do one day for the Harding Icefield hike, and one day for a boat tour and to explore Seward a bit. Also, remember to bring a bag to pack your trash into because the trail doesn’t have any trash cans. Dense clouds hung low and fingers of fog crept up the valleys. You’ll get way more views there, and the hike becomes more scenic than the first stretch you’ve already done. You could, if you like “posting” which is hiking in extremely deep snow. Hiking from Marmot Meadows to Top of the Cliff is a lot more fun, to me at least. The still air was heavy with moisture as I hiked up the Harding Icefield Trail in Kenai Fjords National Park outside Seward, Alaska. Take the left fork and you’ll reach a clearing that is perfect for a picnic or simply to take in the views! I had heard of the Harding Icefield and even drove by the trailhead on previous trips to the Kenai Peninsula and always wondered what an icefield is like. The Harding Icefield trailhead is approximately a 20-minute drive (about 3.7 miles) north of Seward in Kenai Fjords National Park. The trail ends overlooking the massive 700 square mile Harding Icefield, which is a leftover of the last major Ice Age. Bring lots of snacks such as energy bars, or a picnic if you’re going all the way to the top. The terrain remained interesting throughout the route. The park is at the edge of the Kenai Peninsula and it’s home to the Harding Icefield, Exit Glacier, and a ton of glaciers that can only be accessed by boat or helicopter. Otherwise, four days would be perfect. Do you have any questions about this hike? When we went, a storm was rolling in, which meant we had to keep an eye out for impending rain and pack plenty of waterproof gear. If you’re still not convinced, try this on for size: I’m talking about massive glacier views (you’ll be right up near Exit Glacier and see plenty of others in the distance as well), rolling green hills covered in mist, imposing rock cliffs, an endless icefield, and a remote wilderness shelter all thrown together in just a single day trek. chachaSH/Tripadvisor The trailhead is located near the nature center. That way, you’ll have enough time to enjoy the views along the path at a leisurely pace and make it back down just before dusk. At 1.4 miles, the trail really begins to break free of the treeline and opens up into a stunning meadow area with rolling hills ahead and towering cliffs further above. This 8.2-mile roundtrip hike is sure to not disappoint if you are ready mentally and physically. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, the Harding Icefield is 700 square miles of ice! The Harding Icefield is one of the largest non-polar icefields in the world, and the largest entirely within US borders. To completely enjoy the hike and give enough time to take in the views at the top of the trail get an early start. There’s a reason there is a glacier here so be sure to come prepared! You’ll cross muddy fields, traverse some narrow and exposed hillsides, and near the end pass over a few washed out points. This includes packing all litter! For those up for the challenge, the reward is well worth it. After a few hundred more vertical feet, you’ll finally spot the Emergency Shelter standing out on a hillside above. Harding Icefield Trail – The Arrival. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that the weather in the area is still highly unpredictable and can change at any time of the day. There are unlimited ways of why hiking here is worth your time, but here are our 5 favorite reasons to hike the Harding Icefield Trail. Tempting as it is to stop here, it’s well worth moving on just a little further (though also all up hill) to the start of the cliff switchbacks and an incredible view down on Exit Glacier just below you. You’ll also find several RV parks and campgrounds in Seward. It may not be a technical climb (in summer season that is) but getting to the ice field is a serious undertaking just the same and the almost 4,000’ effective climb is rated as strenuous. This will minimize the impact of the campfires and preserve the pristine environment for future generations. Skirting the Harding Ice Field from the highway junction to Homer - July 2004. The views along this stretch of the hike are way better since trees are no longer in your way. In fact, it’s the only land entrance into Kenai Fjords National Park. That may not mean much if this is your first time visiting my blog but after climbing glacier filled slopes on Mount Rainier, exploring the floor of the Grand Canyon, and ascending the cables to the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome, I may not have been everywhere, but I’ve seen enough to know an amazing hike when I’m on one. One of the best ways to quickly experience the Harding Icefield is by hiking the Harding Icefield Trail. (Check out this post on the 36 best things to do on the Kenai Peninsula!). It is about 1.4 miles above the treeline, where the lush green forest falls away and you approach an open meadow. The Harding Icefield trail can really be broken up into two sections: hiking out of the forest to the cliffs for an amazing view of Exit Glacier and then climbing on up to the Harding Icefield above it. That means there’s something for everyone, especially the Exit Glacier trail, which is also handicap accessible! The day we started there were bear sightings along the trail, so make sure to buy bear spray ahead of time. You can also sign up for hikes out on the glacier with guides providing technical gear and support of course. If you choose to explore on foot, there are a few different trails with different levels of difficulty. It doesn’t even encompass how giant the ice field is! Trail opens to views of Harding Icefield, a near-blinding spread of bowl-shaped glacial cirques covering half the park . Your email address will not be published. Sometimes, even in early July, the areas close to the top of the trail are snow-capped. Well, it’s a ginormous stretch of land atop the mountains in Kenai Fjords National Park that is covered in… you guessed it… ice! Barring bad weather, it’s worth it to keep going to the Top of the Cliff at the very least! Yes please! Very excited! The construction of the Spruce Creek trail that year, however, made it possible to view the upper portions of the icecap, and President Harding's promise to visit the territory was sufficient to bestow his name on the feature. Camping on vegetation is destructive which can be pretty devastating. There are three main ways to experience the Kenai Fjords National Park: by foot, boat, or a helicopter ride. By this point, you’ll have a continuous view of the glacier from just about any high point and it’s fascinating to look out as the ice transforms from well crevassed towards the more stable field above. The trail comes to an end at a rugged rocky overlook with a sweeping view of the stunning icefield. A hike with glaciers at the end? The trail extends upward through different ecosystems. No wonder boat tours are a common way to explore the Park- especially with visitors who are eager to come up close with glaciers. We really want to hike to the top of the Harding Icefield. From the valley floor, the trail weaves through bushy terrain, gaining elevation steadily while breath-taking views open up periodically. So here’s everything you need to know before embarking on the Harding Icefield Hike. You’ll get to see Bear Glacier and so much more! This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. For this reason, it’s best to treat the hike as a full-day excursion and set out in the early morning! Hello friends! You might come across humpback whales, Steller sea lions, puffins, harbor seals, and different species of seabirds. Ho, Here’s a postcard from Oahu for anyone who needs, Turns out Dallas is pretty in the fall too! These mild temperatures are perfect for hiking. Endless ice stretched to the horizon in front of us, vast and wonderful: 700 square miles of blue white punctuated with lonely rock peaks.