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Hike to Harding Ice-field - Is it worth it?

San Francisco, Bay...
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Hike to Harding Ice-field - Is it worth it?

Hi All,

We will be visiting Alaska in July. I've read on the forum that the hike to harding ice field is really difficult & that you need to be in a really good shape!!

I am in my mid-20's & husband in his early 30's. We are in OK shape. Work out a couple of time a week for 25 - 30 mins

If we are not able to make it to the top, are there good spots along the way to get good views? Is the hike to the ice-field really worth it?

Thanks,

June

Alaska
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1. Re: Hike to Harding Ice-field - Is it worth it?

I assume you are talking about the hike next to the Exit Glacier, near Seward. There are also other places to hike up to the Harding Ice Field, but this is probably the most traveled and easier\st to follow up and back.

Yes, it is worth it, yes, you should try it, and you will probably make it if you allow enough time. It is no worse than a hike in the alps. Being on a mountain side, it ascends at a slope established by all of the earlier hikers (of all ages and conditioning) , enough to keep you heart pumping and enough moderate areas to relax and enjoy. There are no scrambles or hand-and-feet slopes that I encountered and no scree slopes to cross. I did try it early in the year and was stopped by deep, rotten snow before I came to the end of the trail, but went up a substantial part of the trail.

You reward: an increasingly spectacular view as you go up with many places to enjoy it, and the chance to experience the change from forest to brush to tundra as you go. Take clothes so you can strip down and evaporate to stay dry as you go up, and layers to add on if the wind kicks up or it starts to rain. Standard good hiking boots are adequate, and there is always the character in tennis shoes who does it as well. Take whatever binoculars & camera, sunglasses, bug dope (likely not needed) and food you think you need, along with an adequate supply of water. If you add in a good attitude and good weather, it should be a great experience.

71

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2. Re: Hike to Harding Ice-field - Is it worth it?

Juniper 2007... I agree with Since 71 that it is a great hike worth doing. It is also not as challenging as it is made out to be. Comparing to some hikes in that you may of done.... No harder than the hike up Upper Yosemite Falls, and much easier than the hike up Half Dome (if that helps to compare). Since 71's advice about dry clothes is right on. After working up a sweat to get up there, you are cold and wet when stopping at the top. Stay clear of the cotton clothing as well. Some of the foreign tourists trying to make their way up on our way down had on jeans, tennis shoes, t-shirts and hello kitty backpacks. They looked ill-prepared and miserable only a mile in. If you're interested in reading about our hike up, read Day 4 in this post of our trip to Alaska: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28923-i349-k81840…

Boston...
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3. Re: Hike to Harding Ice-field - Is it worth it?

The trail ascends three thousand feet in three miles, but when I hiked it I didn't have much trouble (at the time I was working out about two times a week as well). Along the way one crosses foot bridges across tumbling creeks and vistas above the icy crags of Exit glacier. You also have a very good chance of seeing black bears, so be sure to make noise as you hike as to not surprise them. On my trip up I saw a mother and her two cubs; we made sure to stay a safe distance away.

I'd give the go-ahead. Be sure to also take the walk to the face of Exit as well (less that a miles and paved).

Blue

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4. Re: Hike to Harding Ice-field - Is it worth it?

Thanks a lot for all your responses ! I am now convinced that we will be doing the hike :)

Cheers!

June

fti
MN
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5. Re: Hike to Harding Ice-field - Is it worth it?

If you are there on a Saturday, there is a ranger-led hike up the Harding Icefield Trail. We are planning on doing as much of the trail as we can from about 9am until 2pm. We won't get al the way but we need to be back for a 3pm Kenai Fjords NP cruise.

Waringstown
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6. Re: Hike to Harding Ice-field - Is it worth it?

Hi Im planning to do the same climb in august how long does it take to get to the top as I want to get up early to get some good photo shots in the morning?

Seward,Alaska
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7. Re: Hike to Harding Ice-field - Is it worth it?

How good of shape your in will decide on how long it takes. Most average 8 hours roundtrip. Exit Glacier faces the east so early morning shots of the face would be nice. You won't get that if your on the top.You'd have the sun, if showing at you. I wouldn't try hiking up in the dark for a sunrise view even though the park doesn't "close". A sunset on the Harding Ice Field could be pretty but then you'd have to hike down in the dark, not a good idea.

MA
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8. Re: Hike to Harding Ice-field - Is it worth it?

The hike is about 7.7 miles round trip with an elevation climb of about 3100ft, and somewhat strenuous in some parts because you have to scramble over rocks. That being said, I made the total hike in about 6 hours, with a bad knee and not much mountain hiking experience, and it was DEFINITELY WORTH IT! I saw a marmot, black bear, and about 12 mountain goats with kids about 15ft from the trail. The icefield is breathtaking in its size and beauty, and is a unique site. Once you get to the top (continue past the storm cabin to the end of the trail where you can overlook the ice field), you will forget how tiring the hike up was! I did this hike in late July 2007, and the trail was mostly free of snow except for a little on the top where it flattens out. Just don't forget to bring sunglasses and SUNSCREEN; UV reflects off the ice and you will fry otherwise. Happy trails!

9. Re: Hike to Harding Ice-field - Is it worth it?

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