Wrangell St. Elias National Park
Backpacking Trip: Iceberg Lake Trek
Type: Backpacking, base camping
Approx. hiking time: 3-5 days
Total elevation gain: Variable
Best season: July - early September
Access: Bush flight - McCarthy to Iceberg Lake
Maps: USGS Bering Glacier C-6, D-6
Challenges: Possible glacier crossings, swift stream crossings
Iceberg Lake is at the end of a stunning valley that is rich with opportunities for exploration. The area offers terrain that is as diverse as it is impressive and includes luxurious valleys, hanging glaciers, alpine ridges and massive glaciers. Bears are often spotted in the valley and occasionally wolverine.
Some people just base camp this valley, but the way to do it is as a combo Alaska backpacking/base camp trip. I call it a loop trip becuase you end up back at the drop off airstrip. But you get to see so much more of this amazing valley by doing a bit of backpacking and then take a couple days to explore an area before moving on.
There is just so much to explore in the Iceberg Lake valley that you could easily spend a week and not run out of places to discover. The ridge to the north is rich with possibilites that range from moderate scramble summits to hidden lakes to high alpine glaciers. This really is an Alaska backpacking paradise.
There is also a glacier on the valley floor that is fun to explore as long as you are careful and properly equiped. Glaciers make this a quintessentially Alaska backpacking adventure as there are few places in North America where you can hike on glaciers without needing advanced mountaineering skills and gear.
Even detailed route descriptions such as those found in the book are not a substitute for skills and experience. If you would like to do this route but don't feel that you are ready to tackle the Alaskan wilderness on your own, consider a guided trek.
If you are interested in doing this route as part of a guided trek, click here for more information on the Iceberg Lake Trek in Alaska's Wrangell St. Elias National Park.