Approx. 1 mile loop to glacier viewing area. An approx 2 mile walk to the glacier's edge and a 4.1 mile strenuous hike to the Harding Ice Field above the glacier.
We recently visited Seward and happened to be staying on Old Exit Glacier Rd. We've seen glaciers before, so visiting Exit Glacier wasn't at the top of my must-do list for the weekend. On a particularly rainy day (of which there are many in Seward), we ran out of things to do, so we made the drive to the glacier. What a worthwhile trip! The drive alone on Exit Glacier Rd. is a side trip worth taking. The road parallels the Resurrection River and affords sweeping views of the river and surrounding mountains. We actually made the drive again twice more during the weekend, just to take in the scenery.
Exit Glacier is part of Kenai Fjords National Park, so the visitor's center is great- just as are those of other national parks. Inside there is a wood-burning stove to warm your hands before or after (or both!) you walk to the glacier. The kids enjoyed looking at the relief map showing all of the other area glaciers and feeling the pelts from local animals like brown and black bears. The highlight of the visitor's center, though, was the huge chunk of ice that was fresh from the glacier. We all enjoyed touching ice that was over 100 years old, and the park ranger was great at explaining such a concept to young children.
Since it was such a rainy day, we stuck to the shorter Glacier View Loop trail, which was about a mile total. The trail was wide, gravel, and well-maintained, and offered a closer view of the glacier and the Resurrection River than you get from the road. There are also several longer trails available that kids would be able to walk, including one that takes you to the "toe" of the glacier-that's where the glacier meets the river. The park ranger told us that it was perfectly safe to take a side trail onto the river bed and actually walk up to the toe of the glacier and touch it. He warned that we would need boots to cross some wet areas about 12 inches deep, so we plan to go back next time we visit Seward and try it out.
We took a quick side trip on our drive down to Seward to visit this glacier. It's the only part of Kenai Fjords National Park that you can drive to. We parked at the little visitor center and took the 1 mile loop trail to the viewing area of the glacier.
My boys loved walking through the beautiful woods and finding the rushing river filled with glacial melt at the end of the forest. We followed the path by the river with the huge glacier within view. The glacier was much larger and steeper than any of us had imagined. We saw the path that led to the edge of the glacier which many visitors were taking but we didn't have time because we were headed to Seward to catch a cruise tour. We would have loved to spend a lot more time at this beautiful glacier.
Lots of interpretive signs were posted along the trail and at the viewing area that helped us understand the glacier and it's color. Nicely maintained trails, restrooms, and helpful rangers made this place very nice.
We stopped in the nice visitor center and my boys (9,7) got their jr. ranger handbooks so that they could work on getting their badges. We stamped our National Passport book and enjoyed getting toasted by the warm fire. Then after a quick climb up the large rock out front, we headed back to Seward.