Hike Gulkana Glacier Trail in Alaska

This glacier hike takes you across one of the longest suspension bridges in Alaska.

If you want to experience a fun glacier hike, the Gulkana Glacier trail near Paxson, Alaska, will take you across a cool suspension bridge.

This trail is found along the Richardson Highway and can be combined with the Castner Glacier hike on the same day.

In this post, I’m going to share how to hike Gulkana Glacier in Alaska.

Hike Gulkana Glacier Trail in Alaska

Trail Summary

Distance: 6 miles
Time: 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 358 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Dogs: Yes

How to Get to Gulkana 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 68.5 miles and take a right just before the Richardson Monument
  5. Drive another two miles on a rough, dirt road to reach the Gulkana Glacier Trailhead

The Gulkana Glacier trail starts at the end of the road. I highly recommend driving an off-road vehicle since the road is pretty rough with plenty of large rocks and some small creeks that you will need to drive over.

Parking at the trailhead is limited and it may be hard to turn around if there are too many vehicles parked in the area.

Along Phelan Creek

Gulkana Glacier trail begins by following Phelan Creek. The trail is a mix of mud, silt, and rocks. Keep an eye on your footing because the rocks are big and there are a lot of them.

Across the Suspension Bridge

You will only have to hike for about five minutes before you reach the suspension bridge that takes you across Phelan Creek. The suspension bridge is bouncy and really fun to cross. It’s definitely one of the longest suspension bridges in Alaska that I’ve seen.

Through the Wildflowers

After you cross the suspension bridge, you will follow the trail up over a hill and gradually descend towards the creek. As you continue hiking, you will see many wildflowers scattered along the trail. We mainly saw a lot of dwarf fireweed and bird vetch.

Greeting Gulkana Glacier

The Gulkana Glacier trail opens up early on and you’ll be able to see the glacier from a distance. It’s an easy 3-mile hike to reach the toe of the glacier and it should only take you around one hour to get there.

You will gain just over 350 feet of elevation by the time you reach the toe of the Gulkana Glacier. We started our hike a little late in the evening, so we decided to turn around once we felt satisfied with how close to the glacier we were.

If you decided to hike all the way, you can climb on top of the glacier. There’s also a cool looking gorge on the left side of the glacier and some crevasses higher up that look like fun areas to further explore another time.

If you only have time to hike to one glacier in Alaska, I wouldn’t suggest that you choose Gulkana Glacier. Alaska has far more impressive glaciers to see, including some that I’ve mentioned in my Ultimate Alaska Glaciers Road Trip guide.

Camping Near Gulkana Glacier

If you are looking for somewhere to camp near Gulkana Glacier, you will find a ton of camping spots along the dirt road that leads to the trailhead. We saw a lot of people camping in the area since it’s flat and open.


Read More

Hike Castner Glacier Ice Cave Trail

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

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