Access Special Backpacker.com Features, Register Now!

Destination Alaska: Harding Icefield

Hike a classic in Kenai Fjords–and escape the crowds by making it an overnight.
alaska harding 445x260Views of the exit glacier (Matt Hage)

This demanding trail climbs 3,000 feet in 3.7 miles. The reward: some of the most spectacular views in all of Alaska, where you’ll gaze across endless plains of glacial ice punctuated by dozens of nunataks—isolated, conical rocky peaks that protrude through the ice and rise several hundred feet. No surprise Harding is a popular dayhike. But very few visitors continue past the first major overlooks.

So to enjoy the view in solitude—and make this trip an unforgettable overnight—just continue west 1.3 miles, across the obvious dark moraines, to more secluded viewpoints and choice tent sites, which offer world-to-yourself silence, equally good views of the icefield, and reasonable access to water running over the nearby ice. The total one-way trip is 5.3 very strenuous miles; the exposed trail gets slick in rain and is a scorcher on sunny days. Keep an eye out for grizzlies and mountain goats.

The Way From milepost 3 of the Seward Highway, take Exit Glacier Road 8.5 miles to the visitor center.

Contact nps.gov/kefj

Leave a Reply