Hikers negotiate the Harding Icefield Trail in August 2015 in Kenai Fjords National Park just outside of Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Hikers negotiate the Harding Icefield Trail in August 2015 in Kenai Fjords National Park just outside of Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Rangers urge caution after emergency incidents on Harding Icefield trail

Before attempting the trail, people should be aware of potential hazards of avalanches, rock slides and wildlife.

The Harding Icefield Trail in the Kenai Fjords National Park is known as being the hardest trek in the park, if not one of the hardest on the whole peninsula.

This month there have been two major incidents on the trail, one in which an elderly man suffered head, neck and spinal injuries after a fall and another in which a hiker was rescued on the basis of severe dehydration.

Patrick Otero, a lead park ranger at the visitor center, said Harding Icefield is “definitely the most strenuous hike” at Kenai Fjords.

Before attempting the trail, Otero said, people should be aware of the potential hazards of avalanches, rock slides and wildlife, among many others.

“They should essentially be prepared for that,” he said.

Leah Wold, the lead interpretive park ranger at Exit Glacier, said hikers need to plan for six to eight hours of trekking, and have two liters of water, snacks and even poles.

“A lot of the time these accidents happen on the way down,” she said.

The Harding Icefield Trail is over 8 miles out and back, and according to Otero, has a 1,000-foot elevation gain per mile. According to AllTrails, that makes the total elevation gain around 3,800 feet.

Wold said it’s important to be aware of footing, especially during the steep descent down the Harding Icefield Trail. She also said hikers need to be aware of the rock sides at the traverse, and to keep moving instead of using that as a resting point.

A good habit to get into as well, she said, is to make sure to tell another person that you plan on hiking the trail and when you expect to be back, since there is no cell service.

“You really are in the wild out there,” she said.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

A firefighter from Cooper Landing Emergency Services refills a water tanker at the banks of the Kenai River in Cooper Landing, Alaska on Aug. 30, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Cooper Landing voters to consider emergency service area for region

The community is currently served by Cooper Landing Emergency Services

Hundreds gather for the first week of the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna music series kicks off with crowds, colors and sunshine

A color run took off ahead of performances by Blackwater Railroad Company and BenJammin The Jammin Band

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Finance Director Liz Hayes, left, testifies before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly during a budget work session on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly passes borough budget

The document fully funds borough schools and includes a decrease in property taxes

The George A. Navarre Kenai Peninsula Borough building. (Peninsula Clarion file photo)
Assembly shrinks borough planning commission

The planning commission is responsible for planning the “systemic development and betterment” of the borough

The Sterling Highway crosses the Kenai River near the Russian River Campground on March 15, 2020, near Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Russian River Campground reopens for 2 summer months

Reservations for campsites can be made online

Kristin Lambert testifies in support of funding for the Soldotna Senior Center during an assembly meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
After leadership change, borough funds Soldotna senior center

The Soldotna City Council in May voted to defund the center for the upcoming fiscal year

Signs direct visitors at Seward City Hall on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
5 vying for Seward city manager gig

The Seward City Council will convene for a special city council meeting on June 12 to review candidates’ applications

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna resident found dead in home

He was found Monday morning

Dr. Katherine Ortega Courtney speaks during the 100% Alaska Community Town Hall on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
100% Alaska survey results, state of services discussed at town hall

Change 4 the Kenai leads conversation about access to mental health, housing, transportation

Most Read