Armchair photo tours: A hike at the Exit Glacier Visitor Center near Seward

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The Exit Glacier Visitor Center near Seward, Alaska

Photos by Cheryl Landes

During the late Pleistocene era, a sheet of ice 2,500 feet thick filled Resurrection Bay. The ice carved a basin in the ocean floor that extends more than 40 miles into the Gulf of Alaska.

Exit Glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park is a remnant of that giant ice sheet. You can get close-up views of the glacier from four trails starting at the Exit Glacier Visitor Center, 12 miles northwest of Seward:

  • Glacier View is a one-mile accessible loop to a panoramic view of the Exit Glacier valley, where you can see Exit Glacier spilling down from the Harding Icefield to its terminus.
  • When the water level of the Resurrection River is low, you can explore the rocky Outwash Plain and hike your way to the toe of Exit Glacier along a 1.2-mile route.
  • A 2.2-mile loop trail leads to the edge of Exit Glacier, where you can feel the chilly winds from the glacier, peek into the crevasses, and hear the sounds of the glacier as it grinds downhill. The Edge of the Glacier trail is a moderately strenuous hike.
  • The Harding Icefield Trail is a strenuous 8.2-mile round-trip hike that takes six to eight hours. For those who don’t have time to hike the entire trail, walk the first half mile for some views overlooking Exit Glacier and the valley floor. The trailhead is a 0.4-mile walk from the Exit Glacier Visitor Center.

During my trip to the Exit Glacier Visitor Center, I hiked the Glacier View Trail and the Outwash Plain trail. The river was low enough where I could explore without getting soaked. The Exit Glacier Visitor Center was closed the day I hiked here.

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The Exit Glacier Visitor Center near Seward, Alaska

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A scene near the Glacier View trailhead

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The Glacier View trail

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A scene from the Glacier View trail

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A view of Exit Glacier from the Glacier View trail

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A mountain scene from the Glacier View trail

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Another mountain scene from the Glacier View trail

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A view from the Outwash Plain

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Another view from the Outwash Plain

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