You can also charter a boat and take in the views at a leisurely pace. There are a few trails that lead from the parking lot to various parts of the lower section of Exit Glacier. However, the challenging, strenuous climb makes the hike seem longer. Hiking beyond the shelter, the trail (if it’s not all snow) splits in a variety of paths though most lead up to the hill ahead. You experience roughly 1000 feet of elevation gain per mile! How to hike harding icefield exit glacier trail. The picnic area is also a great resting place after a long day on the trails. Between the mid-1920s and the early 1930s, the increasing popularity of aviation had given a lucky few the opportunity to soar over the icefield. In any event, reaching the trailhead is simple enough not exactly in the middle of town. Alternatively, you can opt for an Airbnb as well! I'm in moderately good shape so I think I should be able to handle the hike. While the trail is well maintained with plenty of switchbacks along the path to limit the steep segments, you need to be reasonably fit to make it up to the top. Located in the Kenai Fjords National Park, the Harding Icefield Trail is 8.8 miles long and is quite strenuous, with an elevation gain of 3,953 feet. These mild temperatures are perfect for hiking. The day we started there were bear sightings along the trail, so make sure to buy bear spray ahead of time. What you see in the photo is Exit Glacier as it stretches down from the Harding Icefield. Yup, it’s literally a field of ice, hence the name. Bear Glacier is a popular glacier to fly by in Kenai Fjords National Park since it’s the largest glacier off of the Harding Icefield! Check out the best things to do in Seward here! 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. Reaching it takes time, sore legs, and patience, but the view of the icefield is incredibly rewarding! The information tells you this is out and back for 8.2 miles. The trail is about 8 miles round trip – that isn’t too bad, but like most trails in the Seward area, you do a lot of climbing – it has a 3,000 vertical foot rise in total. 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. Your days will be packed to the brim with mesmerizing mountain views, incredible glaciers, varied trails, and lots of wildlife. If possible, you should plan to stay in or around Seward. (You can see the view from the main area of the lodge in the photo above.). While it’s not a large structure, it does offer an interesting perspective in the otherwise in-human environment around. To completely enjoy the hike and give enough time to take in the views at the top of the trail get an early start. The End of the Trail. For this reason, it’s best to treat the hike as a full-day excursion and set out in the early morning! In fact, it’s the only land entrance into Kenai Fjords National Park. The strenuous 4-mile Harding Icefield Trail has stunning views of Exit Glacier and the mile Harding Icefield. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. You’ll get way more views there, and the hike becomes more scenic than the first stretch you’ve already done. The trail comes to an end at a rugged rocky overlook with a sweeping view of the stunning icefield. Skirting the Harding Ice Field from the highway junction to Homer - July 2004. If you’re looking for more weekend getaways from Anchorage, check out this post! If you don’t have a car, you can take advantage of the shuttle services that depart from Seward. Following the Glacier Overlook Trail for 0.4 miles (0.64 km), the Harding Icefield Trail branches off to the right (well-marked). These conditions can make hiking impossible (and in the worst case scenario can even trigger avalanches!). The 7.4-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail is a spectacular day hike. You’ll see a path split off from the main path on your left. What is the best hike in alaska. Here are a few: Now that we’ve covered all of that, let’s talk about the national park that houses the Harding Icefield! 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. However, the best time to hike the Harding Icefield Trail is during the summer months, primarily between June and October. 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. Harding Icefield Trail 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. With a boat ride, you also enjoy wildlife and marine life spotting opportunities! Required fields are marked *. Do you have any questions about this hike? By this point, you may be in an entirely different climate than the trailhead now almost a mile below. The forest slowly opens up as the trail steepens and you start some long switchbacks. From there, the icefield at the top stretches as far as your eyes can see. 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.). 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!!! There is plenty of wildlife to be found around the Harding Icefield! Location: 60.181412, -149.663361. The network of both walking and hiking trails leads to different viewpoints of Exit Glacier. The hole should also be 100 feet from the trail. Sewardresidents generally ignored the huge icefield west of town before 1922. Today wa, Tis the season for love and giving! 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. The first quarter-mile (0.4 km) is through dense cottonwood and alder passing a few small cascades. 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. Follow trail along Exit Glacier ridge; best photos in summer twilight . Helicopter rides, on the other hand, offer a unique vantage point and are an awesome choice if you have limited time. This is remote terrain with regular wildlife encounters (bears most certainly included) across a steep trail possibly with ice, snow, or water crossings. Also, remember to bring a bag to pack your trash into because the trail doesn’t have any trash cans. The Harding Icefield in Kenai Fjords National Park is truly a wonder to behold! The first you’ll reach is Marmot Meadows. I have spent some wonderful nights on the edge of Harding Icefield with my tent watching some beautiful sunsets and sunrises. The 8.2-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail is a spectacular day hike. And you’ll definitely want to keep your eyes open the whole time for wildlife! The tent should either be on the snow or bare ground (to preserve the area’s fragile vegetation). Length 8.2 mi Elevation gain 3,812 ft Route type Out & Back Do I need those hiking pants to keep the bottom part of pants from getting wet? This trail is free to access from the Exit Glacier Nature Center, and certainly some of the best things in … After leaving the Harding Icefield, we continued south on smaller glaciers. Take the left fork and you’ll reach a clearing that is perfect for a picnic or simply to take in the views! 3. 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. The other big thing we wanted to do in Kenai Fjords National Park, besides glacier kayaking, was hiking the famous Harding Icefield Trail.. Once you’re in the parking lot your hiking adventure will begin right by the Exit Glacier Nature Center. The Harding Icefield trailhead is approximately a 20-minute drive (about 3.7 miles) north of Seward in Kenai Fjords National Park. Exit glacier is one of the most visited places in Kenai Fjords National Park thanks to its accessibility. You’ll get to see Bear Glacier and so much more! First, you’ll wind through the forest, then, through a beautiful tundra meadow, and lastly, rocky terrain. Be sure to dress in layers so that it’s easy to remove or add clothes as the temperature changes. Check out this post on 33 crucial things to know before visiting Alaska for some more useful information!). Click on the picture for a map of our route. 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. United States - Hike to Harding Icefield - My husband and I are travelling to Alaska during the last 2 weeks of July. 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. There are no toilets on the trail. It was a warm, sunny July day when my wife and I hiked the Harding Icefield trail. The trail extends upward through different ecosystems. HGL007. 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! 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 … 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. (More on that later.). The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. You experience roughly 1000 feet of elevation gain per mile! 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. There’s a reason there is a glacier here so be sure to come prepared! So here’s everything you need to know before embarking on the Harding Icefield Hike. Over 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, but Exit Glacier is the only one you can hike beside. The nearby town of Seward averages 72 inches of rain per year. (On a larger scale, it lies in the Kenai Peninsula about 125 miles south of Anchorage. 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. We actually didn’t get to go all the way to the icefield due to a storm that rolled in. It is considered a challenging day hike and mainly suitable for the physically well-prepared. If you're ready to share your ideas, stories, and adventures with others, check out my post on how to start a blog. You also get a glimpse of the Icefield along with the majestic mountains surrounding the area. 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.). Yes please! Seward is packed with all types of accommodations- we stayed at Resurrection Lodge on the Bay and loved it! 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. The still air was heavy with moisture as I hiked up the Harding Icefield Trail in Kenai Fjords National Park outside Seward, Alaska. Just a few hours away from Anchorage on one of the most scenic drives in Alaska, it deserves your visit! Up to this point, however, people had walked only on the icefiel… With such incredible views, the trail can get moderately busy and as I took my break / photo stop along the cliffs, I ran into several groups who had decided to make that point their stopping spot. Come prepared to hike the Harding Icefield Trail with layers, water, and trekking poles. Holgate Glacier and Aialik Glacier are the most popular ones to see by boat. You’ll find intertwined trails which means you can do multiple routes without starting over. Necessary warning: While Exit Glacier & the Harding Icefield Trail may just be a “day hike,” it’s nothing to take lightly. The overall profile is around 1,000′ / mile over rough terrain including plenty of large and often slick rocks. Where is the trail head for harding icefield exit glacier hiking trail in alaska. The hikes are also way easier compared to the Harding Icefield Trail. We started at the highway junction where the highway to Seward branches off from the one to Homer. Does the "upper trail" offer view nearly as good as the Harding Icefield Trail? I’d do one day for the Harding Icefield hike, and one day for a boat tour and to explore Seward a bit. chachaSH/Tripadvisor The trailhead is located near the nature center. 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. And if you’re heading to Alaska, here are a few posts you might find helpful: Your email address will not be published. We saw a Grizzly down by the glacier – thankfully well out of range of the trail and several other creatures over the course of the day. The Harding Icefield Trail should definitely be on your Alaska Itinerary! The Cliff is halfway through the entire trail. A hike with glaciers at the end? 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. 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 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. , What’s one thing you’re grateful for? Kenai Fjords National Park hosts some of the best of Alaska’s beauty within its massive rugged and dramatic landscape. Seward residents generally ignored the huge icefield west of town before 1922. Ideally, start before 10am. 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. You should follow the ‘leave no trace’ principals to a tee. I’ve quit my 9-5 to become a travel blogger, and my goal is to show others how they can too! The Trail. There is a free ‘tent only’ campground close to the Exit Glacier Nature Center. No wonder boat tours are a common way to explore the Park- especially with visitors who are eager to come up close with glaciers. This includes packing all litter! Barring bad weather, it’s worth it to keep going to the Top of the Cliff at the very least! So what’s the difference between a glacier and an icefield? The trail ends overlooking the massive 700 square mile Harding Icefield, which is a leftover of the last major Ice Age. It seemed like we hiked for hours (although only a couple) trying to make our way to the lookout over the Harding Icefield. 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! Harding Icefield Trail – The Arrival. Dense clouds hung low, and fingers of fog crept up the valleys. It’s not uncommon to spot black bears, brown bears, mountain goats, moose, marmots, birds, or anything else along the way. 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! 4. Kenai Fjords National Park is technically open throughout the year. From the valley floor, the trail weaves through bushy terrain, gaining elevation steadily while breath-taking views open up periodically. I highly recommend a helicopter tour like this one while you’re in Alaska. 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. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, the Harding Icefield is 700 square miles of ice! ), What to Wear in Alaska: An All-Season Packing Guide. 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. Well, it’s a ginormous stretch of land atop the mountains in Kenai Fjords National Park that is covered in… you guessed it… ice! Even without socks, the hike up the Harding Icefield Trail is incredible. 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. My legs already felt like jelly by the time I got to the Top of the Cliff viewpoint! You’ll also find several RV parks and campgrounds in Seward. Learn how your comment data is processed. You might come across humpback whales, Steller sea lions, puffins, harbor seals, and different species of seabirds. HGL006. Dense clouds hung low and fingers of fog crept up the valleys. The temperatures are mostly in the 70s during the daytime and 40s at night. Another benefit of visiting in summer is the mild, temperate weather. You could, if you like “posting” which is hiking in extremely deep snow. It is about 1.4 miles above the treeline, where the lush green forest falls away and you approach an open meadow. Most parts of Kenai Fjords National Park can only be accessed by water. It has all of the logistics on how exactly to create your own website! One of the best ways to quickly experience the Harding Icefield is by hiking the Harding Icefield Trail. If you choose to explore on foot, there are a few different trails with different levels of difficulty. Harding Icefield lies near the top of this shot! Review trail conditions and the weather before starting your hike. Unfortunately you’ll also have to hike on the road to the trail head, which is closed to traffic in the winter. 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. Thankfully, the views continue all around you so it’s easy to find a consistent excuse to take breathers as you pause to snap photos of it all. Ho, Here’s a postcard from Oahu for anyone who needs, Turns out Dallas is pretty in the fall too! Glaciers And Glory: The Harding Icefield Trail. Otherwise, four days would be perfect. Endless ice stretched to the horizon in front of us, vast and wonderful: 700 square miles of blue white punctuated with lonely rock peaks. And if you love your full time job, stick around for travel tips and inspiration! Hi, I’m Jasmine! Copyright 2020 Traveler Ted. Hiking from Marmot Meadows to Top of the Cliff is a lot more fun, to me at least. 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. We were excited about what our day would bring. 5. It’s also the perfect place to pull out that sandwich that you’ve been thinking about the entire hike 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. 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. Hikers can expect sweeping views of the Exit Glacier … So what is this icefield you’ll be hiking to, anyway? 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. Comment below! They give you amazing views of Exit Glacier and partial views of the icefield. Here you’ll find a ranger station with updated trail and area conditions, restrooms, potable water, and a few basic supplies in the bookstore. Proceed for another 8.4 miles and the road will lead you straight to the parking lot of the Exit Glacier Nature Center. We saw a black bear way off in the distance while we were at the Cliffs area (more on The Cliffs in a bit. You will begin the hike to Harding Icefield in the Exit Glacier area. 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! 9) The Harding Icefield Trail Is A More Strenuous Hike Nine miles round trip from the Exit Glacier Nature Center, this strenuous hike is not for the faint of heart. HGL008 It’s one of about 40 glaciers that descend out of the massive Harding Icefield. Located in the Kenai Fjords National Park, the Harding Icefield Trail is 8.8 miles long and is quite strenuous, with an elevation gain of 3,953 feet. From here, you’ll follow the Exit Glacier Paved Path for roughly 0.3 miles. I’m a nature-obsessed, beauty-finding, Jesus-loving dreamer with a serious case of wanderlust. Turn L onto side trail for Exit Glacier overlook . COPYRIGHT © 2020 | PRIVACY POLICY | Website designed by Alley Digital | Exclusive Member of Mediavine Travel. Just as the view changes, so does the trail, moving from lush hills into a rockier terrain. The views from the top of the trail are unbeatable, but you don’t have to go all the way to experience the magic at the summit. The Harding Icefield Trail starts at the base of Exit Glacier. The town is right outside the park, so it’s a short drive away. An icefield is actually a large area of interconnected glaciers. Harding Ice Field Trail: Tickets & Tours‎ ... visitor center short hike global warming easy access viewing area ranger station the past years longer hike walk up national park harding ice field markers showing moderate hike marked trail viewing point seward highway parking lot harding icefield … 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. Overview. This strenuous trail leaves from the same trailhead as the Exit Glacier Trail. But this may not be the best option if you want to enjoy the views without feeling rushed. 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