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Edge of the Glacier Trail

Intermediate
 4.6 (5) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Travel to the edge of the famous Exit Glacier for an up-close and personal experience.


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Map Key

1.9

Miles

3.1

KM

Loop

904' 275 m

High

433' 132 m

Low

471' 143 m

Up

468' 143 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

39%

Max Grade (21°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers

Family Friendly This is a relatively short outing that will take you and the kiddos right to the base of an active glacier!

The Exit Glacier Area is open year round. Around mid-November, when the snow season really begins, the road to Exit Glacier is closed to vehicles but accessible by a range of winter recreation including dogsleds, snowmobiles, XC skiers, and fat bikes. The road usually stays closed until early May, so be sure to check the current conditions if you are visiting during the off season.

Overview

Exit Glacier is a location where you can see, up close and personal, how glaciers leave their mark on a landscape. You can also discover how vegetation reclaims the desolate rocky area exposed by the glacier's recession.

Need to Know

Be prepared for high winds, storms, sudden temperature changes, and intense sunlight. Pack plenty of layers, rain gear, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

There are no garbage receptacles or restroom facilities on the trail. Pack out all waste.

Description

A system of short trails at Exit Glacier leads to different viewpoints of the Glacier. Starting from the Exit Glacier Nature Center (EGNC), turn left and follow the Exit Glacier Paved Path into the cottonwood forest to "Glacier View," a scenic overlook where you'll see Exit Glacier emptying down from the Harding Icefield. After taking in the view, continue on the path to the next junction.

If you go right here, the Exit Glacier Paved Path loops back to the parking area. Instead, you'll want to stay left at the trail-side kiosk and continue on toward the "Toe of the Glacier" and the "Edge of the Glacier."

A short time after turning left at the Kiosk, there is an optional spur toward "Toe of the Glacier." Getting to the Toe includes crossing the rocky outwash plain. This area may be inaccessible due to flooding and there is no established trail across the plain. If the water level is low, you can pick your way through the rocky outwash to the toe, or terminus. Do not get close to the glacier in places where the ice is overhanging - enormous chunks of ice can calve off without warning.

Regardless of whether you make your way to the Toe, continue on the well-maintained trail to the "Edge of the Glacier." This somewhat strenuous trail will guide you to a wall of blue ice that provides the most dramatic close-up view of Exit Glacier.

Retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Flora & Fauna

This trail wanders through an ecosystem that is a great example of plant succession beneath a retreating glacier. You'll see the entire succession from mosses to fireweed to alder and forest. The NPS has compiled some great information about the succession on their website.

Contacts

Shared By:

Mikhaila Redovian

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 5 votes

#2055

Overall
  4.6 from 5 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#42

in Alaska

#2,055

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46 Views Last Month
3,005 Since Apr 19, 2016
Intermediate

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Photos

Moraine Walkway
Apr 2, 2020 near Bear Creek, AK
Exit Glacier Lookout is a great place to take some time to yourself and enjoy your surroundings.
May 24, 2017 near Bear Creek, AK
Exit Glacier View
Apr 2, 2020 near Bear Creek, AK
Exit Glacier in the winter.
Apr 22, 2016 near Bear Creek, AK
Like a sick person's tongue!
Apr 19, 2016 near Bear Creek, AK
Crossing the outwash toward the Toe.
Apr 19, 2016 near Bear Creek, AK

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Check-Ins

Jul 14, 2019
Alicia Duggan
Jun 30, 2019
Vidyasagar Duvvuru
Jun 1, 2019
Jason Draper
May 24, 2019
Matthew Adams
1h 00m
May 20, 2019
Rock On
Oct 24, 2018
Birgit Moeller
Jul 28, 2018
Geng Zhao
Jul 1, 2018
Melissa Ross