Harding Icefield Trail

OutAndBack • 8 mi • 3000 ft

A long day hike in the Exit Glacier area of Kenai Fjords National Park to an overlook of the Harding Icefield. Start early and pack a camera and plenty of film for this hike to the edge of the Harding Icefield, where dark peaks poke out of a sea of ice. The trail climbs gradually through forest and brush, alpine wildflower meadows, and finally rock and snow to an overlook of the icefield. The moderate, switchbacking grade comes to you courtesy of Student Conservation Association trail workers—high school students hailing from all over the United States—who worked for several years building this spectacular trail. Fog, rain, and poor visibility are common, and weather can change quickly, so carry warm, waterproof clothes even on sunny days. Be prepared to retreat if bad weather moves in; you probably couldn’t see anything anyway. If the weather is decent, be ready to be amazed. Special features: Exit Glacier and the Harding Icefield, great views and wildlife, especially mountain goats.
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Seward
Length: 8 total miles
Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderately Strenuous
Season: July to mid-September, though snow lingers all summer.
Trailhead Elevation: 400 feet
Top Elevation: 1,750 feet
Local Contacts: Kenai Fjords National Park
Local Maps: USGS Seward A-8 (trail not shown); Kenai Fjords National Park brochure; Trails Illustrated Kenai Fjords National Park
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Recent Trail Reviews


Sorry to say I did not make it to the top. KIds were grumbling and my knees were knocking. Views at almost the top were well worth the pain. The people were all friendly and from all over the world. This was a strenous hike for me. I guess the five mile run at dawn was too much for me. This is a must do hike!!!!!!!


Excellent hike with a wide variety of terrain and contrasts to enjoy on the way! The signs say prepare for 6-8 hours round trip, but we spent an hour on top for lunch, stopped often to pick berries, and it took us exactly 5. Prepare for cool weather and a little wind, and bring your water filter!

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