Hike Castner Glacier Ice Cave Trail

Castner Glacier Ice Cave

This easily accessible glacier hike has a huge hidden ice cave that’s worth the 5-hour drive from Anchorage.

If you’re looking for one of the quickest ways to explore an ice cave in Alaska then hike Castner Glacier Ice Cave Trail. This half-mile trail is found along the Richardson Highway and follows a creek that will take you to a stunning ice cave hidden around the bend.

In this post, I’m going to share how to hike Castner Glacier Ice Cave Trail near Paxson, Alaska.

Hike Castner Glacier Ice Cave Trail

Trail Summary

Distance: 1.2 miles
Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 100 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Dogs: Yes

How to Get to Castner Glacier Trail From Anchorage

  1. From Anchorage, head north on the Glenn Highway
  2. Follow the Glenn Highway and exit towards Palmer/Glennallen
  3. Continue for 145 miles and turn left onto Richardson Highway (AK-4 N)
  4. Continue straight for 88 miles until you reach Castner Creek
  5. Parking is available north and south of the bridge

Along Castner Creek

The Castner Glacier Trail begins at Castner Creek near Paxson, Alaska. The drive from Anchorage takes 4 hours and 57 minutes and follows a paved road the entire time. When you reach Castner Creek on the Richardson Highway, you can park on the north or south side of the bridge.

Castner Creek Castner Glacier Trailhead

There are two different hiking trails that you can take to reach Castner Glacier. Just north of Castner Creek bridge, you will find a dirt road on the right-hand side. You can follow the road until it merges into a smaller trail. If you have an off-road vehicle, you can actually drive down the road as far as you can and then your hike will be even quicker!

The other trail starts underneath the north side of the bridge. This is my preferred way to hike to Castner Glacier because it follows the creek the entire time and the views are awesome. You’ll walk along the rocky creekbed and weave in and out of what looks like an actual trail.

Crossing Creeks

Castner Creek Trail

As you get closer to the glacier, you will have to cross over two small streams. There are plenty of large, dry rocks that you can use to get across. Continue heading towards the main creek to stay on the path towards the ice cave.

Just Around the Bend

Castner Glacier Ice Cave Alaska

From a distance, it’s impossible to see the Castner Glacier ice cave. It just looks like a pile of rocks. As long as you follow Castner Creek all the way up, you won’t have any problems finding the ice cave. Once you get closer to the glacier, you will see the opening to the ice cave around the bend to the right.

Exploring Castner Glacier Ice Cave

alaska glacier ice cave

The trail to Castner Glacier is just over half of a mile, and it will take you about 30 minutes to reach the ice cave at the toe of the glacier.

The ice cave is huge! You can explore the ice cave by accessing it from the north side, which is also why you should hike along the north side of the creek instead of the south side.

Alaska Ice Cave

Enter at your own risk! Take caution as you enter the ice cave. You will have to scramble across some loose rock and watch out for any rocks that may fall from above.

When you are inside the ice cave, you can walk pretty far back on part of the creek that is frozen over. You will hear the creek rushing underneath you. I try not to stay in ice caves too long because you just never know what Mother Nature has in store for you!

Castner Glacier Hike
View Richardson Highway Alaska Range

Beyond Castner Glacier

After taking a few photos in the ice cave, we scrambled up to the top of the glacier to see what it looked like. While there’s not much to see beyond the glacier, the views looking out to the Richardson Highway are pretty awesome. The ice cave is definitely the main attraction of this hike.

If you want to take your adventure to the next level, you can follow the glacier back 7.8 miles to reach the Alaska Alpine Club Thayer Hut. This A-frame hut is located at 4800 feet and requires an understanding of glacier conditions to reach it.

Hiking Castner Glacier During Winter

It’s possible to see the Castner Glacier ice cave during the wintertime. The winter trail usually follows the south side of Castner Creek. I haven’t done it myself but after realizing how easy the trail is and seeing photos of the ice cave during winter, I can’t wait to go back. The cave tends to be covered in hoar frost, which makes it sparkle like glitter.

Before you leave the area, make sure to check out Gulkana Glacier Trail. It has a super cool suspension bridge and can be done all in the same day.

Happy hiking!


Read More

Hike Gulkana Glacier Trail in Alaska

The Ultimate Alaska Glaciers Road Trip

5 Glacier Hikes Near Anchorage

What to Wear Hiking in Alaska (Summer)

Alaska Travel Guide


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Castner Glacier is a half-mile trail that leads you to a hidden ice cave. Located off the Richardson Highway in #Alaska, you don't want to miss this hike. #alaska #travelalaska #glacierhike #icecave #glacier

Do you have any questions about hiking Castner Glacier Trail? Let me know in the comments.

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Brian
24 days ago

Incredibly insightful article! Thanks