Black bears are spotted almost everyday from the Harding Icefield Trail. Glaciers And Glory: The Harding Icefield Trail. 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. How to Hike the Harding Icefield Trail Getting to the Harding Icefield Trail To reach the beginning of the Harding Icefield trail. When planning a trip in these conditions, we recommend that visitors have mountaineering skills, equipment, and experience to travel safely in this terrain. Please respect their hard work by sticking to the trail. Necessary skills include route-finding, steep snow climbing and descending, self-arrest, and avalanche terrain recognition and rescue. The wildlife on this trail includes plenty of marmots, but there is a very good chance you will see bears and mountain goats as well. Total Length: 8.2 Miles RT 3000 ft Elevation Gain. It was a warm, sunny July day when my wife and I hiked the Harding Icefield trail. Many of these challenges exist during the shoulder seasons (Oct, Nov, May, Jun) as well, when the trail will be covered in varying amounts of snow. Be prepared for storms, high winds, intense sunlight, and sudden temperature changes. The 8.2-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail is a spectacular day hike leaving from the Exit Glacier Area. The hike starts out in lush meadows; it was late June and the snow had recently melted off leaving beautiful wildflowers in it's wake. Hiking Harding Ice Field means getting up above the Exit Glacier and onto the Ice Field, which for me would mean one or more overnights up there to make it worth while. Hike with a ranger. Otherwise you are spending all of your energy getting up just in time to head back down, and it will tucker you out. This trail is a tough day hike, gaining 3,000 feet of elevation in only 4 miles. Good shorter options with scenic views are Marmot Meadows (1.4 mi one way) or Top of the Cliffs (2.4 mi one way). The Harding Icefield is the park's crown jewel, almost 714 square miles of ice up to a mile thick. The nearby town of Seward averages 72 inches of rain per year. Hikers gain approximately 1,000 feet of elevation with every mile. The first quarter-mile (0.4 km) is through dense cottonwood and alder passing a few small cascades. The trailhead is located near the nature center. Rangers-led hikes along the Harding Icefield Trail often occur during the summer. And then you get to the top where you will see the incredible Harding Icefield… Steep hike We first did the glacier overlook which is short 0.5 mile roundtrip hike. The path is a series of loops that lead out to different overlook points of the Exit Glacier. Take precautions and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Bring warm clothes, rain gear, sturdy footwear, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Looking across Exit Glacier The trail winds its way through brush for a ways and eventually leads above the tree line. It seemed like we hiked for hours (although only a couple) trying to make our way to the lookout over the Harding Icefield. How to Hike Harding Icefield - Exit Glacier | Alaska - YouTube The vegetation along the trail is dense and passes through thickets of salmonberries, a favorite food of black bears. Hiker at the end of the Harding Icefield Trail, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska. Winding through the valley floor, the trail passes through a forest of alder and cottonwood, over meadows abundant in heather with a climactic ascent above the tree line to a stunning vista of the Harding Icefield. Following the Glacier Overlook Trail for 0.4 miles (0.64 km), the Harding Icefield Trail branches off to the right (well-marked). Careless hikers who cut switchbacks, along with frequent summer rains, cause tremendous erosion. 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. 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. Pack it out. Pack out all litter. Make noise when you hike to avoid surprising a bear. We were blessed — such days are not common in this area. The whole trail takes approximately 8 hours: about four hours to hike up and about 3-4 hours to descend. From the very beginning, this trail climbs upward, starting with switchbacks through the forest. Length 8.2 mi Elevation gain 3,812 ft Route type Out & Back New snow could be found on the trail during the fall. Keep your eyes open! While doing the entire hike of 8.2-miles up to the icefield is sure to be unforgettable, even a shorter hike affords amazing views of the valley below and Exit Glacier’s terminus. Be prepared for storms, high winds, intense sunlight, and sudden temperature changes. Overview. Recommended equipment includes (but is not limited to) sturdy, warm, waterproof footwear, cold weather clothing including synthetic layers and waterproofing, communication devices (no cell service), trekking poles, ice axe, snowshoes or skis, avalanche transceiver, probe, and shovel. Be especially on the lookout for mother bears with cubs. Stay on the trail. A short hike up the trail affords impressive views of the valley floor and Exit Glacier's terminus.
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