Ascending Path
Ascending Path
5
Monday
8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tuesday
8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
About
Visit and experience a unique Alaskan wilderness on our authentic glacier adventures. Within an hour of Anchorage we can have you on a glacier, and enjoying real Alaska on a spectacular guided hike. An amazing train ride gets us to the Spencer Whistle Stop which offers excellent Iceberg viewing and Glacier hiking. Your family can even paddle a Tandem Sea Kayak past icebergs and ride a Heli to climb on the Spencer Glacier itself.
Girdwood, Alaska

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(32 reviews)
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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5.0
307 reviews
Excellent
296
Very good
9
Average
1
Poor
0
Terrible
1

Karen S
2 contributions
Jul 2022
Our afternoon kayak/hike at Spencer Lake was the highlight of my Alaska visit. It started with the train ride which was incredibly scenic and educational. Our Ascending Path guide, Benny, met us on the train and took care of us the entire day. Benny was super energetic, smart and a fun guide. I highly recommend him and Ascending Path. The day was long but well worth it. 5 out of 5 stars, for sure.
Written August 1, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Maryna G
Fort Lauderdale, FL107 contributions
Sep 2014 • Couples
My husband and I took the last tour of the 2014 season and it was amazing! The Yurt next to the Alyeska resort was easy to find and we were greeted by the nicest people. They took us to the train station as the only way to get to Spencer Glacier is by train. Don't forget your ID because you can't board the train without one. A pleasant ride for about 30 min and a lunch, make sure you eat it because you will need that energy. There was hot tea and coffee available at the train station.
September is pretty cold there so make sure to wear layers of clothes. And make sure that your shoes are comfortable, supportive and with a solid sole. That will make your day a lot more enjoyble.
After the safety briefing you will get into a kayak and make your way across the lake to the glacier. Don't worry if it's cloudy or rainy it's all well worth it. Ryan is an amazing guide! He knew a lot about glaciers and was very attentive to all our needs. We drunk glacier water, peeked into crevasses, took million pictures and overall had a fantastic time.
Don't miss this opportunity to have a day of your life!
Written January 21, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

gibbowolf
Wichita, KS438 contributions
Jun 2019 • Solo
My personal experience:

This was my first time to Alaska. I have walked up to the toe of a glacier in Canada. On this trip I walked up to the waterfall at Mendenhal Glacier in Juneau and saw some small ice, our group went to Glacier Bay and we saw multiple glaciers and some minor calving, I was on the Northwestern Fjord trip in Seward and saw a glacier calve for 4 minutes straight and I landed on a glacier on top of Denali. Seeing the glaciers and knowing they are disappearing is sad but highly rewarding. I'm not sure what if anything we can do to slow this down. Being this close in the water to the toe of Spencer Glacier and the icebergs was truly invigorating even though I had other glacier experiences.

The hiking:
Spencer lake is surrounded by mountains, the hike should be rated easy as you are walking on a wide gravel path and there is no elevation until after the the kayaking for lunch which is at the most moderate. That part, I'd compare it to a short walk on a beach with an incline but with a glacial view. The lunch was fresh and hit the spot.

The train:
If leaving from Anchorage, get to the station at least by 6:15 to pick up your tickets at the counter. I just had to tell them my name and show them my ID. They already had my name. I traveled from Anchorage and the Coastal Classic to Spencer was included. It's a beautiful train ride that is narrated. You see the same scenery on reverse on the way back but take the Alaska Discovery train that takes you to Grandview where you stop for 30 minutes and can do an easy hike around the area independently or with a guide from the train. From there you can go back to by bus and get back around 6:00 p.m which is what I did because I had to fly out or you could continue on to Whittier where you stop for an hour. It's a different route with new views and you travel through America's longest tunnel. You might research this to see if you'd like to do it before your Kayaking trip. If you go to Whittier you don't get back until after 9:00 so it would be a super full day.
The kayaking: The time on the lake was suffiicient and it was calm to the glacier and back. Both persons in the kayak should have kayaking experience. It doesn't need to be much. Basically the back person steers and assists while the front person determines the speed. The steering should be easy because the kayaks have a rudder that is controlled by pedals however I was a solo kayaker so I had to pair up with another solo kayaker. I was in the front which really the easy job but more paddling. My partner had kayaked a long time ago but had completely forgot everything about it. We got off to a slow start and the guide disconnected the rudder which was not really necessary. He caught on for the most part and I was able to compensate for his steering. In short, someone needs to know how to steer the boat. The boat was stable.

What to wear: I wore jeans over sweatpants and light water proof pants that I provided. They provide water proof pants. I was not cold or wet at all. I probably didn't need two layers. They also provide a skirt that keeps water from coming in the kayak. The paddle has gloves on the paddle that were sufficient. The gloves can already be wet. Mine were slightly but it wasn't a big deal. I might suggest bringing some thin rubber gloves as liners.

What to bring on the kayak trip:

A back pack: for after the kayaking to peel off any clothes if it's a warm day and to store your own snacks or whatever. There is a nice waterproof storage that is ample for a small backpack.
A camera: I brought my cell phone and a cheap clear plastic waterproof cover with a neck strap. You could bring another camera and probably wouldn't drop it in the lake but I didn't take the chance as neither should you.
A rain jacket: I wore one over a fleece sweater. It was plenty warm. If it's a warm day, I'd store the fleece sweater in the backpack in the kayak before you get started

Value:
I used my AAA card and got a 10% discount. That was nice. The train trip to Girdwood alone from Anchorage is $130 I'd assume the extra legs and time on the train to Spencer, Grandview and Whitter might be another $80 or more. The lunch...it's Alaska...would probably be $12 to $15. The provided gear and the guides are the what you're paying for which is expensive to pay on your own. However, the experience is priceless.
Written June 27, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Wow! Thank you for such a in-depth review! Fellow travelers will surely find this super-helpful. Please come back and adventure with us again! Cheers, Nicole
Written July 4, 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Sandra O
Durham, UK1 contribution
Jul 2015 • Couples
During a recent trip to Alaska, one of the highlights for my husband was to participate in a kayak and glacier walk tour. After a lot of research, we decided on this company since they offered transport to and from Anchorage. In order to ensure availability, he signed up and pre-paid for this event more than 3 months ahead of time. The day before the tour was set to proceed, during final confirmation of participation and body size for harnesses etc, we were informed he would not be allowed to participate as he was too tall (at 6' 9") for the kayak.
An upper body mass restriction of 250 lb was mentioned in the requirement section online; never was there any mention of a height restriction. This entire experience was disappointing and unnecessary if the personnel had mentioned this restriction at the time of booking; when he mentioned his height.
Written July 31, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
This was a safety decision. Period. This negative review is completely Ironic, I see this decision as AP staff doing our jobs very well; to take care of our guests.Guest safety and enjoyment is our number one priority, and has been for 20 years. As I said in a private email to this client, we too are disappointed that we are not able to accommodate all physical shapes and sizes due to the limiting nature of sea kayaks. Had we known at the time of booking that your partner is 6'9" we could have arranged alternative accommodations (a open kayak or raft that he could safely fit in.) In fact we did this earlier this summer for a client also nearly 7 feet tall. I disagree wholeheartedly with this review, as we were not given proper advanced notice. We do not have incompetent staff, rather we have thoughtful and kind people who care about guest safety and comfort. Additionally, our webpage does actually very accurately describe the physical requirements for kayaking to spencer glacier. My suggestion to reduce future disappointments like this is that folks mention, (to all excursions booked in Alaska and traveling elsewhere), when someone is unusually shaped. I think you will find that given the objective information in advance, many companies will be friendly and accommodating as safety allows. - Matt
Written August 9, 2015
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

dahlia2006
Chicago, IL15 contributions
Aug 2012 • Couples
My husband and I went on the Alpine Glacier Hike at the end of August 2012. It ended up just being the two of us and two tour guides. This was such an amazing adventure and it is actually right at the Alyeska Resort so it was a hike that didn't take up your whole day. The glacier is actually covered by rocks and ice but there is still much to see and learn. We learned about glaciers, the vegetation, climbed up on a glacier, learned a little about the tools ice climbers use. It was a great way to learn about glaciers. The guides were informative, very safety conscious and were fun to hang out with during the hike, they even took tons of pictures for us. My husband wasn't too sure when I told him that I booked this hike but when we were done he was smiling from ear to ear and said that he was so glad that we went here. We both said that we would go again. I highly recommend you checking out Ascending Path.
Written October 30, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

fishoutofwater47
Denver, CO51 contributions
Jul 2017 • Family
Nice little crag at the Alyeska Ski Resort. Climbs ranged from 5.9 to 5.11. Mitch was great - deserves a big raise!
Written July 30, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

GeorgeR1966
Daly City, CA10 contributions
Aug 2016 • Solo
I felt that I totally got my money's worth and the trip exceeded my expectations! It started off with a scenic train ride from Anchorage. Then we kayaked to the glacier while bypassing icebergs. Once at the glacier, we set off and found a huge hole to be lowered and climb up from. Afterwards, we explored the glacier and looked into some caves. We had some time to kayak passed the glacier and around the icebergs. Ryan, our guide, was very professional and fun. It helped that our group enjoyed each other's company. I hope to do another tour with Ascending Path when I'm back in Alaska!
Written August 25, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jamie W
Cary, NC5 contributions
Jul 2016 • Family
We were fortunate enough to have a 2-person/1-guide trip up to the Alyeska Glacier last week with Jonathan. He was a terrific guide for me and my 11-year-old son; the whole experience was amazing - we roped up as if we were mountain climbing, walked out onto the glacier, and got to experience a really unique adventure.

Just turning around and seeing how far we had come up the mountain with the Turnagain Arm in the background was amazing - we got dozens of great pictures up there as well.

Highly recommended!
Written July 22, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

srfrgrl97
Pittsfield, MA134 contributions
Jul 2016 • Family
Ascending path is the BEST. Incredible customer service. Matt and Ryan were the greatest! So fun, personable, and inspiring!! Knowledgeable. Helped our 19 year old daughter conquere her fear of caves. She was so comfortable with them she took the plunge into the moulin!! A huge accomplishment for her. It has awaken a whole new world for her. Never can repay that.

This was definitely the highlight of our trip.
Written July 18, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

brutiesma
Quinton, NJ36 contributions
Jul 2014 • Friends
This was the most wonderful adventure of our Alaskan trip. Our guide Ryan was the best !!! Thanks Ryan. We arrived in Girdwood and took a van to our destination, where we were instructed and fitted into our kayaks. We then traveled a mile and a half across the lake to reach the glacier. At that point we were fitted with crampons and given instruction on the basics of ice climbing. We began our journey across the ice. WOW!!! So much different than what it appears. Gullies and gulches and holes and caves and moulons, oh my!!! About an hour into our hike, Ryan informed us that he had not had any hikers reach this point thus far this year. He asked if we were ready to journey further and of course we were. Awesome, awesome adventure. I would definitely recommend this tour to any adventurous soul.....
Written September 9, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Ascending Path (Girdwood) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go