Did you know that Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is the largest in the nation? It stands at a whopping 13.2-million acres, and like its Alaskan counterparts, most of that is rugged wilderness. There aren’t many trails, but the ones that do exist are all beautiful. My favorite is perhaps one of the less scenic, but you get to walk on a glacier at the end, and that’s pretty freaking awesome in my book. That’s why it’s considered one of my Top Trails in our national parks.
Length: 4 miles round-trip
Time: Allow 2 hours to do the trail, then add more time to spend on Root Glacier
Start/end: The trail begins passed the Kennecott Mine.
Parking: You cannot drive into Kennecott or nearby McCarthy unless you’re a resident. You’ll need to park before the footbridge, then walk across the bridge. From here, take the shuttle, walk, or ride a bike the remaining 4.5 miles to Kennecott.
Disclaimers: Walking on glaciers is dangerous. I would not advice doing so without proper gear, such as spikes or crampons.
Hiking Root Glacier Trail
The trail itself isn’t very exciting. It also changes every year as the glacier recedes, so it’s difficult to write about. You’ll walk through the woods for the majority of it, so be on the lookout for wildlife. I saw a moose and her calf the first time I hiked this trail. You’ll also cross over a couple small creeks, but there are wooden planks to assist you. After you take the spur trail to the glacier (which is clearly marked), you’ll be out in the open for the rest of the way. If it’s sunny or windy, prepare accordingly with sunscreen and a windbreaker.
This is not one of those “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” situations. The highlight of the Root Glacier Trail is the glacier itself. Like I said, don’t attempt to walk on the glacier without crampons or spikes. It’s very slippery and there are various crevasses. But if you can secure the proper footwear and make the long trek to Kennecott, it is so worth it.
More Photos from the Root Glacier Trail