Harding Icefield Trail

An amazing climb on a well traveled trail alongside the Exit Glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park. You pass alder, cottonwood, crystal cold streams and thickets of wildflowers as you gain 3500ft elevation  in 4.1 miles. This challenging hike leads you to several vantage points overlooking the blue white ice of the glacier, the braided river winding in the valley floor below and the mountain peaks in all directions. The vistas from less than 1.5 miles uphill at Marmot Meadows are enough for some who choose to end their climb at this point  Others continue up the trail, often encountering snow in the early summer season, past the lower and upper cliffs, just beyond the emergency shelter, to the end of the trail. You are rewarded for the serious uphill effort with expansive views across the Harding Icefield, 300 square miles of ice and snow creating over 40 glaciers. The white that blankets the mountain range stretching as far as you can see is like no other view I have experienced from a trail, a truly unique Alaska landscape.

Pack some snacks, bring a water bottle, good hiking shoes, trekking poles and possibly gaiters for snow encounters. You will want warm layers, especially once you reach the top, and of course a rain jacket as you never know what Alaska will bring with quick changes in the weather. The morning/early afternoon will make for easier travel across the snow. I would plan for at least six hours, more for the many photographic views and much needed rest breaks, to complete the entire 8.2 mile trail. It can be done in less time, but who wants to rush such a beautiful hike.

More info. can be found on the  Kenai Fjords National Park website.

Happy Hiking!