Trek price does not include cost of transportation to McCarthy or lodging in McCarthy before and after the trek as there are several options we can discuss.
A Classic Alaskan Backpacking Trip.
Our most popular backpacking trip, this route hits the sweet spot - absolutely stunning vistas every day at our most economical price. Most our trips require a bush flight to access the backcountry but on this one we shoulder our packs and simply start walking out of town from the historic Kennicott site.
We begin by hiking across the Root Glacier, being sure to take the scenic route and explore the fascinating world of glacier ice including moraines, crevasses and meltstream canyons. Your guide will teach you some interesting bits of glaciers along the way - how they are formed, grow and eventually retreat.
Our first camp is set up on the far side of the Root Glacier on the moraine edge near a thundering waterfall. Bears are often spotted here as well as a family of foxes that has a den not far from our camp. The next day is a moderate day of hiking as we make our way (on dry land today) to our next camp by a lake just passed the foot of Donoho Peak. A short hike from camp and up a hill gives us a fantastic view of the glaciers and peaks that surround us.
Over the next several days we do a lot of glacial exploration. Day 3 is usually a layover day which we use to check out the Gates glacier which offers some of the most dramatic features with huge fins and interesting hiking.
We spend a total of 5 days making a loop that brings us back to where we started in Kennicott.
The Adventure at a Glance
5 days/4 nights trekking in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Duration: 5 days Trekking, 7 days including travel time
Group Trips: See the calendar for dates
Custom Trips: Custom trips can be scheduled late May to mid Sept. Call to discuss
|Day 0||Arrive in Anchorage by late afternoon and get checked in to your hotel (not included). The group will meet up with the guide for a gear review and distribution of food and group gear. We'll continue the meeting over a relaxing dinner where we all get to know each other a bit and go over some logistics.|
|Day 1||Our van picks you up at your hotel around 8:00 am for the drive to McCarthy. You may also elect to drive in a rental car. It's an amazing drive and one of the most scenic in Alaska. Arrive in McCarthy around 6:00 pm in time for the meeting with your guide. The guide will review your gear and distribute food and group gear as well as go over logistics for the following departure day.|
|Day 2||After breakfast in McCarthy we take a short van ride to the former mining town of Kennicott. We get a bit of the interesting history of the place as we pass through town.After passing through Kennicott, we just head out of town on a path that was once a road to some of the mines in the area. Fifty years ago we would have been able to get up on the glacier right at Kennicott, but like most glaciers in the world, the Root Glacier is receding. But after about an hour or less of easy hiking we arrive at the toe of the glacier.Today’s journey takes us across the Root Glacier by the scenic route. We take our time in the crossing to explore the fascinating glacier features such as melt water streams and canyons as well as deep holes called moulins that are created by water drilling a hole down into the ice. Your guide will teach you about how glaciers are formed from the gradual transformation of fluffy snow into super dense glacial ice hundreds of feet thick.Our first camp is set up on the far side of the Root Glacier on the moraine edge near a thundering waterfall. Bears are often spotted here as well as a family of foxes that has a den not far from our camp.|
|Day 3||We start by hiking along the edge of the lateral moraine of the Root Glacier. Then we turn to the west and cross the Donoho Lakes land mass. We pass right under the base of Donoho Peak which rises 3000 feet above us. There is a trail for part of the way, though it does tend to be a bit brushy in a few spots. We pass the two lakes that make great break and lunch spots.At one point today we’ll have to get our feet wet as we negotiate a stream crossing. But it’s not a difficult crossing and we are soon on our way. Our camp is beyond the second lake near a spring and close to the junction of the Kennicott and Gates Glaciers. A short hike from camp and up a hill gives us a commanding view of the glaciers and peaks that surround us.|
|Day 4||We leave our camp set up today and head out for some exploring with just our daypacks. It's time for more fun on the ice, this time on the Gates and Kennicott glaciers. This area has some of the most interesting glacial features of the trip including some dramatic fins, moulins and pools. This will be one of the most rewarding days on the trek.|
|Day 5||We pack up camp and head onto the Kennicott Glacier and head back towards Kennicott. But it's a long way back so we stop for the night near the end of the white ice and set up our camp… right on the glacier! Don't worry, we'll take an extra sleeping pad to ensure that we stay warm.|
|Day 6||After breakfast we cut across a band of moraine and are back on the Root Glacier. We get a great view of the Donoho falls before turning east. We take a different route back across the Root on our way back to Kennicott for the conclusion of our trek. A van takes us back down to McCarthy and hot showers.Later we meet up at the Golden Saloon for dinner and a few well deserved brews as we share our experiences of the trek.|
|Day 7||The van departs at 10:00 am for the return trip to Anchorage arriving around 6:00 pm. Overnight in Anchorage|
How Do We Get to McCarthy Alaska?
There are several options.
If you have more than 2 in your group then renting a car out of Anchorage can be a good option.
A shuttle service provides van transportation between Anchorage to McCarthy, Alaska. The shuttle departs Anchorage at 8:00 am arriving around 5:00 pm in McCarthy. This is the besst, most economical way for one or two people to get to McCarthy and back.
If you are driving or taking the shuttle it takes about 8 hours to drive Anchorage to McCarthy.
Round Trip: US $390.00
The van service is operated by Wrangell-St. Elias Tours. Once you have a hotel reservation in Anchorage you will need to let them, as well as me, know where you will be staying. Also give them your cell phone number if you will have one with you.
Wrangell St. Elias Tours
Contact: Jennifer Titus
Ride n Fly
The last 60 miles from Chitian to McCarthy is on the McCarthy road. 40 miles of the road are unpaved. It's usualy in good shape and any vehicle can easily drive it. But some folks prefer not to.
An alternative is to drive to Chitina and from there take the Wrangell Mountain Air shuttle that flies three times daily to McCarthy.
Wrangell Mt. Air - http://www.wrangellmountainair.com/getting_to_alaska.htm
Wrangell Mt. Air can also arrange a charter flight just for your group. Contact them about current rates.
There is a mail plane that flies between Anchorage and McCarthy twice a week - on Mondays and Thursdays. This is a good way for one or two people to get to and from McCarthy. Beautiful flight and no long drive in the car. With only two flights weekly you would likely need to arrive a few days early in McCarthy.
Where Do We Meet?
You will be picked up at your hotel around 8:00 am of Day 1 as shown on the itinerary. The van usually arrives in McCarthy by 6:00 pm At this time you will meet your guide and the rest of the group in McCarthy for an orientation meeting the evening before the trip begins. You will be in contacted approximately 2-3 weeks before your trip and we will specify the exact location of the orientation meeting at that point. The morning of departure it's a short walk across the street to Wrangell Mt. Air where we catch a shuttle van to the airstrip for our departure into the backcountry.
We like to get an early start on the first day as it might take two flights to get everyone into the backcountry. Departure times of 8:30 a.m. are common. Our pickups on the last day are usualy around mid-day to allow us time to get back to McCarthy and get cleaned up and relax before dinner.
Your safety is our top priority. Our treks are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are certified wilderness first responders or EMT's, each with years of wilderness experience. On most treks the guide carries a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 9074.554.1088 for more information.
Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.
Here is a link to forms that you will need to complete and return to us before the trip. These include medical history, dietary restrictions, conditioning information as well as policies such as cancellations and refunds.
We prefer to run small groups and our clients like it that way too. The standard group size on backpacking trips is 5 guests and 1 guide. Larger groups are possible for private trips. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 907.554.1088 and we'll answer all your questions.
Weather in the Wrangells
Alaska is pretty far north and like any mountain evirronment we are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures in Wrangell-St. Elias. July is especialy variable and we have had temps hit the low 80s some summers. Mid August is when things start to cool down a bit but still great hikng weather.
|Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)|
What's Not Included
: See the Gear List for detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your trek.
Meals: What To Expect
All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.
For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables. In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.
We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.