Train and Glacier Hike from Anchorage
After making your way to the Alaska Railroad station in downtown Anchorage, you will check in for your train ride to Spencer Whistle Stop on the Glacier Discovery Train. You will meet your guide on the train at the second Portage, Whittier stop (where you will have a chance to stretch your legs). While on the train, when not enjoying the beautiful scenery, all guests will fill out a hiking application and sign a waiver. A deli lunch of either a turkey or vegetarian sandwich is served on the train.
The Spencer Glacier is located just South of Portage Valley and the Turnagain Arm in the Kenai Mountains and the Chugach National Forest. It is entirely off the road system, so you will ride a train from Anchorage, Girdwood or Portage with breathtaking views of glaciers and towering alpine peaks. The tour is operated under permit from the Chugach National Forest.
From the Spencer Whistle Stop, your group will board a bus for a short dirt road jaunt to the base camp at the lake edge. This saves 2 miles of walking and gets you past the crowds, directly to the most scenic spot. Your group of 5 or less will set off to cross the lake in tandem sea kayaks, enjoying outstanding views of the glacier and floating icebergs. The total distance to the edge of the glacier is about 1.5 miles (each way) of flat lake water, and takes approximately 1 hour.
Arriving at the glacier's edge, leave your kayak behind and gear up with helmets and crampons. After safety lessons and crampon practice, you will travel onto the glacier and have about 2 hours to explore the amazing ice features, such as blue ice, crevasses, ice caves, and moulins, with skilled and experienced glacier guides. The 6 hours you will spend in the Alaskan outdoors includes many photo and rest stops to learn about interesting local wildlife, history, and glaciology. Naturalist glacier guides will pace the trip and total mileage to your groups' fitness level and desires.
After the hike, you will board the Northbound Coastal Classic train, making a stop in Girdwood before returning to the downtown Anchorage train station at the end of an incredible day of travel and exploration.
Please Note: Participants must arrive prepared. Guests must dress in warm synthetic clothes in multiple layers, the top layer being waterproof. Cotton clothes, including blue jeans, are not recommended. Long synthetic pants, a fleece jacket or thin mid layer, sturdy hiking boots or trail shoes, a warm hat, sunglasses, and gloves are required. Each guest should bring a backpack. Cameras and binoculars are strongly recommended.
All paddling gear, all glacier hiking gear, bear protection, bottled water, a snack, and deli lunch will be provided. Additional meals may be purchased on the train. The tour operates in all weather conditions, at the discretion of the guide.
The minimum age to participate is 13 years old. The Transportation Security Administration requires that any Alaska Railroad passenger 18 years of age or older present a government issued photo ID, or two other forms of ID, one of which must be issued by a government authority. Guests under the age of 18 must travel in the company of an adult 18 years or older.
All participants must weigh between 90 and 250 pounds. The maximum height that can be accommodated is 6 feet 7 inches, and the maximum waist size is 44 inches. Guests must be able to keep a steady pace over gravel, ice and packed dirt surfaces, many of which are uneven, and may be on an incline. Participants should be in good condition, and all guests must sign a waiver before participating. The tour vehicles are not wheelchair accessible. As train tickets must be pre-purchased, this tour must be cancelled a minimum 18 days prior to tour departure to receive a partial refund.
Reviewer: Travel Agent
This trip also includes 1-mile kayaking (about 40 minutes) each way to get to the glacier. It was a welcome surprise for us, it turned out to be my favorite part of the trip, but I wish I would have know ahead of time.