how long does it take to hike harding icefield

Looking over a corner of the ice field is a humbling experience, one that leaves behind a sense of magnitude and awe that stays with visitors for a long time after they leave Alaska. Make noise when you hike to avoid surprising a bear. In the spring of 2016 Exit Glacier Guides will be offering two expeditions onto the Harding Icefield for one week each. Although the view from the top is well worth the effort, you need not hike all the way to the top to experience the wonders of this trail. Overview. Be prepared! Hikers gain approximately 1,000 feet of elevation with every mile. Black bears are spotted almost everyday from the Harding Icefield Trail. Apparently it was a toll road. Then went on to the harding icefield trail. you can either drive and park at Exit Glacier Car Park or take the Exit Glacier Shuttle that costs $10 return with a few different times to choose from. There are no garbage cans or toilet facilities along the trail. View from the end of the Harding Icefield Trail. Just know that if you go down, you're going to have a steep 10-15 minute hike back up to the shelter. The total distance of the trail is 1.8 miles, however, depending on how many of the loops you take and optional add-ons to the Harding Icefield, you can easily shorten or lengthen the route to meet your hiking group’s needs. Want some company? 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. Although the view from the top is well worth the effort, you need not hike all the way to the top to experience the wonders of this trail. From the very beginning, this trail climbs upward, starting with switchbacks through the forest. Seward residents generally ignored the huge icefield west of town before 1922. Of all the wonderful hiking trails in the Seward area, the Harding Icefield trail is my favorite. There are ample opportunities for breaks on the way up as well either to rest or to enjoy the view and have a snack. Length 8.2 mi Elevation gain 3,812 ft Route type Out & Back Harding Icefield Trail at about 1 mile of the hike and 1000 ft elevation gain Above the treeline, thick wildflowers start to appear, and the combination of alpine glaciated peaks, the forest below, glaciers, river flowing across the valley floor and wildlflowers made it feel like almost hiking in heaven. Glaciers And Glory: The Harding Icefield Trail. Pack out all litter. Ability Level: Difficult. It is strenuous, but throughout the hike, and especially at the end, hikers are highly rewarded for their efforts. Price: $80/pp. 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. Never get between a mother bear and her cubs. The trail is strenuous! Walks depart from the Exit Glacier Nature Center. Careless hikers who cut switchbacks, along with frequent summer rains, cause tremendous erosion. That is just a little over 1000ft per mile, making the trail very steep and suitable only for hikers in good condition. Bring warm clothes, rain gear, sturdy footwear, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Alpine vegetation is extremely fragile. The whole trail takes approximately 8 hours: about four hours to hike up and about 3-4 hours to descend. Watch for wildlife throughout your hike, as bears, mountain goats, hoary marmots, and others, have all been seen from the trail. For this reason, it’s best to treat the hike as a full-day excursion and set out in the early morning! Check. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Steep hike We first did the glacier overlook which is short 0.5 mile roundtrip hike. Stay on the trail. Check on trail conditions before starting out - the upper portion of the trail is often covered with snow through early July, and there may be avalanche danger. Go to the right to start the Harding Icefield trail. Snow can often still be found on the trail until late-June to early-July. When planning a trip in these conditions, we recommend that visitors have mountaineering skills, equipment, and experience to travel safely in this terrain. 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. Carry plenty of water (at least 2 liters per person), or bring along a filter - untreated water from streams along the trail may contain Giardia, a parasite that can cause severe abdominal distress. Follow the principles of Leave No Trace – limit group size, find a camp spot that is out of sight from the trail, and avoid crushing fragile vegetation. After passing the emergency shelter, you can climb up a little more, and then after that, it just goes down and down toward the ice. Keep your eyes open! Planning to Camp? The trailhead is located near the nature center. Stops along the way at Marmot Meadows (1.4 miles) and Top of the Cliff (2.4 miles) provide scenic vistas to take a break during your journey or turn around for a shorter hike. New snow could be found on the trail during the fall. Throughout the entire hike … Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information. The Harding Icefield is the park's crown jewel, almost 714 square miles of ice up to a mile thick. Camping is permitted along the Harding Icefield Trail corridor, but you must set up camp at least 1/8 mile from the trail on bare rock or snow. 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. Overlooking the Harding Icefield is the reward for a difficult hike. The trail is strenuous! Hikers gain approximately 1,000 feet of elevation with every mile. Exit Glacier and the Harding Icefield Are Conveniently Located And Easy To Get To. Guests are in for a remarkable day hike on an 8.2 mile loop along the Harding Icefield Trail. Camping is allowed off the Harding Icefield Trail … Exit Glacier … 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. This trail is a tough day hike, gaining 3,000 feet of elevation in only 4 miles. Be prepared for storms, high winds, intense sunlight, and sudden temperature changes. 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. Take precautions and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Some of it melts but a lot of it does not, and it’s compressed into dark blue ice over the next three or four decades. Looking across Exit Glacier The trail winds its way through brush for a ways and eventually leads above the tree line. Allow at least 6–8 hours to hike to the end of the trail and back. Hiker at the end of the Harding Icefield Trail, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska. Unfortunately you’ll also have to hike on the road to the trail head, which is closed to traffic in the winter. Following the Glacier Overlook Trail for 0.4 miles (0.64 km), the Harding Icefield Trail branches off to the right (well-marked). About 3.9 miles in, we could finally see what looked like the end of the planet, and in some ways it was. The Harding Icefield trailhead is on the right side of the path. A short hike up the trail affords impressive views of the valley floor and Exit Glacier's terminus. The first quarter-mile (0.4 km) is through dense cottonwood and alder passing a few small cascades. Carry plenty of water (at least 2 liters per person). Camping is not permitted in the shelter at the top of the Icefield trail – it is for emergency use only. Although the view from the top is well worth the effort, you need not hike all the way to the top to experience the wonders of this trail. It has everything; amazing scenery and wildlife. No reservations are required. Please respect their hard work by sticking to the trail. The Harding Icefield collects more than 400 inches of new snow each winter to replenish what evaporation and the glaciers take away. Volunteers help restore and maintain this trail every year. NPS Photo / F. North. 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. Allow at least 6-8 hours for the hike. Careless hikers who cut switchbacks, along with frequent summer rains, cause tremendous erosion. The Harding Icefield hike in Alaska easily makes our top 3 list of most memorable and wow-factor hikes. Stay on the trail. Duration: 5-8 hours. Alpine vegetation is extremely fragile. The hike starts from the foot of Exit Glacier just outside Seward and takes you to the top of the enormous Harding Icefield. The scenery is incredible as you hike up the mountain and get increasingly better views of the glacier and the Kenai Mountains. Be especially on the lookout for mother bears with cubs. You could, if you like “posting” which is hiking in extremely deep snow. Even a half-mile hike up the trail gives you a panoramic view of the valley floor and the edge of Exit Glacier. This guy gave us a glassy stare as we walked by. As an out and back trail, hike as far as you would like. The 8.2-mile out-and-back hike along Harding Icefield is a spectacular outing. Allow at least 6-8 hours for the hike. Check on trail conditions before starting out - the upper portion of the trail is often covered with snow through early July and there may be avalanche danger. 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 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. Mostly vertical, it can be a real A** whupper, but ohhhhh, the reward is sooooo worth it. The trail ascends steeply over the 4.1 miles, gaining around 3500' of elevation. 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. During the winter, the Harding Icefield Trail is covered in snow and is considered a “mountaineering route.” You can expect to find steep, snow-covered slopes, difficult route-finding, and avalanche hazards. Even a short hike up the trail affords impressive views of the valley floor and Exit Glacier's terminus. Be sure to backfill your cat hole when you are done. Be prepared for storms, high winds, intense sunlight, and sudden temperature changes. How to Hike Harding Icefield - Exit Glacier | Alaska - YouTube We were blessed — such days are not common in this area. Bring warm clothes, rain gear, sturdy footwear, sunglasses, and sunscreen. How to Hike the Harding Icefield Trail Getting to the Harding Icefield Trail To reach the beginning of the Harding Icefield trail. Necessary skills include route-finding, steep snow climbing and descending, self-arrest, and avalanche terrain recognition and rescue. Please respect their hard work by sticking to the trail. Hike with a ranger. Our group size will be limited to 6 clients for each trip and will spend our time exploring the vast main body of the Harding. 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. That slope down is very steep, but allows you to get very close. The forest slowly opens up as the trail steepens and you start some long switchbacks. It was a warm, sunny July day when my wife and I hiked the Harding Icefield trail. 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. Pack it out. 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