A Classic Alaskan Backpacking Trip.
Who says you have to spend an hour bouncing around in a cramped bush plane to get into the Alaskan wilderness? We shoulder our packs and simply start walking out of town from historic Kennicott.
We start 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 glacial geology along the way.
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.
On day three it's back on the ice and down the Kennicott glacier. This day included some of the most interesting glacial features of our trek. We conclude our day near the junction of the Kennicott and Root glaciers. Be sure to bring a full length sleeping pad for this trip becuase on our last night we set up camp right on the glacier!
Our fourth and final day takes us back over the Root Glacier (but by a different route) and finally back into Kennicott.
We'll sit on the porch of the lodge and have a cold root beer before heading back down to McCarthy.
Because there is no costly bush flight, this is one of our most econimical trips but rest assured, there is no economizing on adventure with plenty of interesting hiking, wildlife opportunities, great views and glacial exploration.
The Adventure at a Glance
2 nights in McCarthy, Alaska
5 days/4 nights trekking in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Days of trip total, Anchorage to Anchorage 7 days
Duration: 5 days Trekking, 2 days travel
Group Trips: See the calendar for dates
Custom Trips: Custom trips can be scheduled late May to mid Sept. Call to discuss
Day 1 - Anchorage to McCarthy, overnight McCarthy
Day 2 - Day one of 5 day Donoho Lakes Trek
Day 6 - Last day of trek, overnight McCarthy
Day 7 - Depart for Anchorage
Itinerary for Trek
We arrive in McCarthy around 5:00 PM and get checked into Ma Johnson’s Hotel. Once everyone is squared away in their rooms we meet at Trek Alaska for a gear check and to distribute group gear and food. We also review the plan for the next day.
After breakfast in McCarthy we take a short van ride to the former mining town of Kennicott. We get a bit of history 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.
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 chilly 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.
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. This will be the longest day of our trek but one of the most rewarding.
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.
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.
Return to Anchorage