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Kenai Fiords National Park: Harding Icefield

Hike a classic in Kenai Fords–and escape the crowds by making it an overnight.

Rating

This steep trail climbs 3,000 feet in 3.7 miles. The reward: some of the most spectacular views in Alaska, with incredible vistas over 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 seclusion, 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 trail is steep and slick in wet conditions, hot and exposed on sunny days. Keep an eye out for bear, mountain goats, and marmot.

PERMIT INFO: No permits are needed, but for safety register your itinerary with rangers, especially if you’re venturing onto the ice (glacier gear and experience required).

MORE INFO: Kenai Fjords National Park, 907-224-7500; nps.gov/kefj

-Mapped by Steve Howe

To Trailhead

At milepost 3 of the Seward Highway, on the northern outskirts of Seward, take the signed Exit Glacier Road and continue 8.5 miles to road’s end at the visitor center. Late arrival? There’s a free, 12-site, walk-in campground with food storage and a covered cooking area.

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