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Harding Icefield Trail

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

3.8 mile 6.1 kilometer point to point
63% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 3,011' 918 m
Descent: -19' -6 m
High: 3,504' 1,068 m
Low: 505' 154 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 15% (9°)
Max Grade: 49% (26°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Kristen Arendt

A tough trail that rewards runners with sweeping views of the Exit Glacier.

Kristen Arendt

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The Exit Glacier Area is open year round. Around mid-November, when the snow season really begins, the road to Exit Glacier is closed to vehicles but accessible to a range of winter recreation including dogsleds, snowmobiles, XC skiers and fat bikes. The road usually stays closed until early May, so be sure to check the current conditions if you are visiting during the off season.

Description

The Harding Icefield Trailhead is located on the right about 1/3 of mile along the Exit Glacier Paved Path.

Starting on the valley floor, the trail meanders through alder and cottonwood forest as well as heather-filled meadows. The trail rises through the forest and ultimately ends up well above tree line to an awe-inspiring vantage point of the icefield. The peak of the trail is a peephole to ice ages past. A horizon of snow and ice stretches as far as the eye can see, broken only by an occasional lonely peak, known as a nunatak.

The trail is quite strenuous. You'll gain roughly 1,000 vertical feet over every mile. While the view from the top is definitely worth the extra work, you don't need to run all the way there to experience the aspects of this trail that make it so special. A short run up the trail provides dramatic views of the valley and Exit Glacier's end.

Flora & Fauna

Please stay on the trail. Alpine plant life is very fragile. Cutting switchbacks causes tremendous erosion. Volunteers donate their time to help maintain this trail - please respect their efforts by staying on the trail.

This is bear country! The plants along the trail are dense and include salmonberry bushes, a popular food with black bears. Black bears are seen almost every day on this trail. Take care and be conscious of your environment at all times. Making noise as you run can help you avoid startling a bear. Be particularly alert if you encounter a mother bear with cubs. You're likely to see the cubs first, but you can be sure the mother will be close by. Never put yourself between a mother and her cubs. More info on bears can be found here.

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Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 5 votes

#5035

Overall
  4.6 from 5 votes
5 Star
60%
4 Star
40%
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Trail Rankings

#59

in Alaska

#5,035

Overall
14 Views Last Month
1,334 Since Apr 22, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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17%
50%
33%
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Photos

Exit Glacier from Harding Ice Field Trail
Sep 2, 2018 near Bear Creek, AK
As you approach the end of the trail, the Harding Icefield spreads out before you. It is an awesome sight to see the source of over 40 glaciers.
Aug 17, 2019 near Bear Creek, AK
Exit Glacier/Harding Ice Field, Seward, AK
Jul 20, 2016 near Bear Creek, AK
Marmot Meadows - on Harding Icefield Trail
Sep 2, 2018 near Bear Creek, AK
The trail climbs above the tree line through a field of fireweed and other flowers.
Aug 17, 2019 near Bear Creek, AK
Take the opportunity to enjoy the views of the Resurrection River valley that spreads out below you from the upper portions of the trail.
Aug 17, 2019 near Bear Creek, AK

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