Of all the beautiful day hikes we did in Alaska in August 2013, trail to the Harding Icefield was my favorite.
This trail has everything, from amazing scenery to wonderful wildlife, colorful wildflowers, and breathtaking finale!
Just like waterfalls flowing from the melt water, many glaciers flows from the Harding ice field. Harding Icefield trail continues to climb up on the right side of the Exit Glacier to the top of the ice field.
The most interesting part comes at the end of the trail, where you get to stand at the edge of an icefield looking out at the miles and miles of endless ice!
This hike is 8 miles round trip – which is not the bad part, but it gains 3000 feet of vertical rise during those 8 miles. In another words if you are not used to hiking, you will feel the climb.
The trail begins near Exit Glacier – and the climbing starts soon after. The park service has done a wonderful job maintaining this trail.
The first part of the hike passes through the forest and offers some beautiful views of the valley, along with some waterfalls.
Soon after the first part, you pass through tall alders, which blocks most of the views, but once you pass the forest, you get to the alpine tundra, and the views are amazing everywhere you look!
You then get to the first and the second lookout and the final part rises above the tundra and pretty much rocky with great views.
You finally get to the top, where you get rewarded with the breathtaking views of the icefield.
It is a long strenuous day hike. You want to be prepared by carrying lunch and plenty of water. There are many water sources along the trail, where you can refill your water if you have filter. We started very late in the day and took advantage of Alaska’s unlimited daylight to finish the hike.
All in all, if you love hiking, and you have never stood at the edge of an ice field looking over endless ice, this hike should be in your list.
It is safe for me to say that this was an unforgettable hike!