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Ever wondered what it’s like to hike and camp on a glacier? This epic Alaskan hike will give you a solid icy answer! Get ready to explore glaciers, encounter wildlife, and marvel at stunning landscapes. Starting from the village of McCarthy, your expert guides will lead you through the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. With every step, you’ll uncover secrets of the Root Glacier and Donoho Lakes, and enjoy delicious meals prepared on-site. From glaciers to mountains, the vastness of America’s largest national park is sure to leave you breathless. Ready to explore the frozen unknown?

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Adventure highlights

  • Glacier exploration

    Discover the wonders of the Root, Gates and Kennicott glaciers, from their icy crevasses to thundering waterfalls

  • Scenic Views and Wilderness

    Soak in breathtaking vistas of towering peaks, cascading icefalls, and pristine Donoho Lakes

  • Wildlife Encounters

    Observe bears and foxes in their natural habitat and get a glimpse into Alaskan wildlife

Itinerary

Embark on an glacier hike in Alaska from the charming village of McCarthy, avoiding costly bush flights to the backcountry! This backpacking journey begins with a trek out of historic Kennicott and unfolds with awe-inspiring vistas, glacier ice exploration, and encounters with wildlife. Trekking across the Root Glacier and led by knowledgeable guides, you will navigate through stunning peaks and icefalls, savoring the beauty of Donoho Lakes. Group gear and all meals are provided, ensuring immersive and unparalleled experience in the heart of Alaska’s wilderness.

  • Make sure to arrive in Anchorage, AK at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) at least a day prior to Day 0.

  • It’s travel day to McCarthy! Keep in mind, transportation from Anchorage to McCarthy is not included, so you will have to get there on your own. There are several options to reach it, which include planes, vans, or automobiles—choose whatever works best for you and enjoy one of the most scenic journeys in Alaska.

    Upon arrival in the late afternoon, you’ll meet with the guide and your fellow hikers. The guide will distribute food and group gear amongst you and check everyone’s equipment to make sure you’re all set for the trip. After the hour-long meeting, you can grab some dinner and repack for the trek.

    Mount Sanford in Alaska
  • After breakfast in McCarthy, we’ll hop in a van for a quick 5-mile (8-kilometer) ride up to Kennicott, a former mining town. Along the way, you will learn about the history of the area and its copper-rich past. From Kennicott, we will hit the trail, following an old road used for copper hauling.

    Upon reaching a cutoff leading to the famous Root Glacier, we’ll descend onto the ice and spend the rest of the day crossing the glacier, eventually hiking up over the moraine to make camp on the other side, near a thundering waterfall. Bears are often spotted in this area, along with a family of foxes that have made their den not far from your camp.

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

    Hiking the Root Glacier
  • No glacier hiking today! We’ll begin today’s trek along the edge of the lateral moraine of the Root Glacier, then head west to traverse the scenic Donoho Lakes area. Passing under the base of the majestic Donoho Peak towering 3,000 feet (915 meters) above us, we’ll take our time to navigate through brushy terrain. After passing a couple of lakes,we will set up camp in the moraine at the edge of Gates glacier.

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

    Donoho Peak in Alaska
  • We’ll be leaving camp as it is, so we can enjoy a relaxed breakfast—pancakes might be on the menu! With a light day-hiking load, we will head out to explore the Gates and Kennicott glaciers with their captivating glacial formations, like dramatic fins and ridges. There’s also an option to ascend moraine ridges, so the day’s activities are flexible. Since glaciers change every summer, we’ll adapt our plan based on their current condition, before returning to our camp.

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

    Crossing the Gates Glacier
  • Following a delicious breakfast, we’ll trek back across the Donoho landmass, returning to our initial campsite where we spent our first night. As this marks our final night on the trail, your guide has something special planned—a surprise to cap off your Alaska glacier hike adventure!

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

    Family traversing the Root Glacier
  • On our last day on the trail, we will begin our return journey over the Root Glacier, savoring one last glimpse of the majestic Stairway Icefall. Our destination is Kennicott, where our glacier hike draws to a close. A van will whisk you down to McCarthy. Your first stop will traditionally be at The Potato, where their eclectic menu awaits, paired perfectly with a refreshing cold brew to toast the unforgettable moments of your Alaska expedition!

    Meals: Breakfast and lunch

    Lakeside camping under the mountain range
  • Getting back to Anchorage and leaving Alaska is left to your discretion. It is recommended to arrive in Anchorage by late afternoon and to spend the night there before flying out or continuing your Alaskan adventures.

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Meet your guides

Greg Fensterman
5.00
Greg Fensterman
Greg is an experienced outdoor enthusiast with a rich history in mountain exploration. His journey began with a transformative Boy Scout backpacking trip to Philmont Scout Ranch, sparking a lifelong love for the mountains. During six years in Washington’s Cascades, Greg honed his skills and shared his expertise in various outdoor skills, such as navigation, snowshoeing, avalanche awareness, rescue, winter camping, and ice ax self arrest as an instructor with the Seattle branch of the Mountaineers. In 2002 he moved to Alaska, where Wrangell-St. Elias captivated him, inspiring pioneering treks and the authoring of “Hiking Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park”.
Anna Nordin
5.00
Anna Nordin
Anna, a seasoned wilderness guide, brings a wealth of outdoor experience to her role. With five summers as a backcountry guide, she led canoe trips in the Boundary Waters and backpacking expeditions across the lower 48 and Alaska’s Brooks Range. She also worked with the Utah Conservation Corps, gaining knowledge in plant life and invasive species. Recently, Anna delved into sled dog care, training, and racing in Alaska. Her passion lies in connecting people and creating inclusive outdoor environments while promoting respect and allyship toward wild places and each other.
Matt McIntosh
5.00
Matt McIntosh
Matt as an experienced guide is no stranger to the wilds of Alaska. With extensive backcountry experience, including trekking and guiding in the Brooks Range including ANWR and Gates of the Arctic as well as the Wrangells, he brings a wealth of knowledge. Matt’s passion for history shines through in his guiding, as he shares stories of the places he visits. Currently pursuing a master’s degree in history, he’s dedicated to empowering others to connect with their past, present and future.
Trek Alaska
5.00
Trek Alaska
Featured in National Geographic and founded by Greg Fensterman, Trek Alaska team boasts a wealth of knowledge and expertise, ensuring a personalized experience for each adventurer. Their seasoned guides have been leading backpacking expeditions through the untamed wilderness of Alaska since 2003. With small group sizes of 4-5 hikers, the intimate encounters with nature go beyond the ordinary, promising unforgettable moments in the heart of Alaska’s rugged terrain. With a perfect safety record spanning over 19 years and countless explorers, trust Trek Alaska to guide you through the majestic landscapes of Alaska like no other.
5.00 (6 reviews)
Jason M. (source: Guide’s website)

Greg blew away my expectations. There was not a moment that I was ever uncomfortable with his leadership. You haven’t walked the world until you’ve trekked the wilderness of the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains.

Steve T. (source: Guide’s website)

I had a great time. The small group size made the trip a lot more fun. Greg and Andrew were excellent guides.

James (source: Guide’s website)

The trip was a great blend of intense hiking and terrain and enjoyment. The vistas were breathtaking and the food was delicious. It was an amazing experience. [The guides] were knowledgeable and experienced and were patient with us as we learned how to operate best in the wild.

Andrew (source: Guide’s website)

Both Scott and Greg maintained the highest level of professionalism on the trail. Always helpful, always available for questions and always putting the group forward into new and gorgeous terrain.

Erin D. (source: Guide’s website)

Ryan was fantastic, we really got along with him. He set a really good pace and seemed to know a lot about the area and terrain. The food was great and Ryan was quite the chef. When he told us we were having burritos I was shocked and excited.

Kerrin S. (source: Guide’s website)

Stunning scenery, good company. I had a very interesting and relaxing time – but adventurous too!

Things to know

  • What you get on this adventure:

      • An experienced, knowledgeable wilderness guide with extensive knowledge of the area
      • 5 days of glacier hiking and camping in Alaskan icy wilderness
      • Round-trip shuttle van from McCarthy to Kennicott and back
      • All meals from breakfast on Day 1 to lunch on Day 5 and snacks for the trek
      • Group gear (tents, cook tent/dining tarp)
      • All cooking gear (stove, fuel)
      • A pair of microspikes for walking on ice
      • Bear safety equipment
      • A company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone

    What’s not included:

      • Transportation to and from Alaska
      • Transportation from Anchorage to McCarthy and back
      • Accommodation in McCarthy and Anchorage
      • Meals in McCarthy and Anchorage
      • Guide gratuities — optional
      • Travel and medical insurance — strongly recommended
  • This Alaska glacier hike promises an active vacation filled with tasks like packing and unpacking gear, dismantling and setting up camp, hiking through varied terrain, navigating brushy landscapes, crossing glaciers, and ascending and descending moraines. These activities can be extremely challenging if you’re not in good physical shape, so bear this in mind. If you think you’re not up to the challenge, you should enhance your fitness level and prepare for the tour beforehand.

  • Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

      • Trekking poles
      • Sleeping bag
      • Backpack large enough to carry all the items listed and then some, as you will have to carry some of the group gear your guide provides you with
      • Water bottle or hydration bladder (2L capacity)
      • Lightweight hiking boots or shoes
      • Comfortable hiking clothes
      • Spare clothes for layering
      • Waterproof rain jacket
      • Sunhat
      • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
      • Headlamp or flashlight
      • Sunglasses
      • Camera — optional (but recommended)

    Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias region is notorious for unpredictable weather shifts, typical of mountainous environments. Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.

  • During this guided glacier hike in Alaska, your guide will take care of all meal preparation—all meals are included from breakfast on Day 1 to lunch on Day 5. Your Alaska glacier hiking tour includes a diversity of tasty meals packed with essential carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to fuel your adventures.

    Foods that travel well in the backcountry are prioritized, including rice, pasta, lentils, beans, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, etc. To enhance taste and energy, all meals are supplemented with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, fruits, and vegetables. You will also get an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

    The guides strive to accommodate restricted diets and allergies, with vegetarian options readily available and adjustments possible for other dietary needs (such as gluten-free). If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know at the checkout.

  • During your Alaska glacier hike, you’ll camp in the wild in two- and three-person tents provided by the guides, so you may be required to share a tent with another hiker. Your guides supply high-quality tents accommodating more people, as they’ve found it to be the most lightweight and comfortable option for Alaska backcountry exploration. If you have a problem sharing a tent, please contact us so that alternative arrangements could be made.

    Bear in mind that accommodation in McCarthy and/or Anchorage is not included in your Alaska glacier hike tour, so you should make prior arrangements for the lodgings yourself.

  • Your guides on this Alaska glacier hike boast an impressive record in wildlife spotting, particularly for bears and foxes, notably near your first (and last) campsite where they are often sighted. A family of foxes even has a den nearby! Still, keep in mind that nature’s unpredictable and these are wild animals, so sightings are not guaranteed. July and August are some of the most challenging months to see larger mammals because high temperatures cause reduced wildlife activity. The longer you spend in the wilderness, the better your chances of spotting them!

  • Group sizes and pricing

      • For this group glacier backpacking adventure, the usual client-to-guide ratio is 5:1. That’s also the maximum group size.

    Hiking in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

    Min. age requirements

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Minors younger than 18 (but no younger than 10) may be permitted to join the hike on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

    If your group has hikers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • To get to McCarthy, most people fly into Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) in Anchorage, Alaska. There are several options to get to McCarthy from there.

    For groups larger than two, renting a car out of Anchorage can be a good option, while a shuttle van is the more economical option for one or two people. If you choose to drive or to take the shuttle service, the drive will last for about 8 hours. You can also opt for a faster route and go by plane.

    After arriving in McCarthy, you will meet with your guide and the rest of the group in the afternoon (usually around 6 pm) in front of Ma Johnson’s Hotel in the middle of McCarthy.

  • We highly recommend that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance.

    With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more. Travel insurance covers canceled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans.

    We also expect you to respect local regulations and take measures to protect yourselves, your guides, and the communities you’re traveling to. If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

  • A deposit of 50% of the total cost per person is required to reserve a trip. The remaining balance will be due ninety (90) days prior to the start of the trek. Reservations made within ninety (90) days of the trip’s starting date require payment in full. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies.

      • If the participant cancels a reservation more than one hundred twenty (120) days prior to the start of the trip, a 100% refund will be made, minus a $300 administrative fee.
      • If the participant cancels a reservation less than one hundred twenty (120) days but more than sixty (60) days prior to the starting date, there will be a refund of 50% of the amount paid.
      • If cancellation is less than sixty (60) days before the trip starting date, there will be no refund. There will be no exceptions regardless of the reason for such a cancellation.
      • If the participant is unable to arrive in McCarthy in time to join the trip due to flight delays, flight cancellations or any other reason, there will be no refund. The participant is solely responsible for on-time arrival in McCarthy.
      • Any reimbursable expenses arising out of the Booking incurred by Guide prior to the date of cancellation (including but not limited to plane tickets, car rental payments, and lodging or transportation fees) are non-refundable as soon as they are incurred by the Guide.
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