Like something straight out of the Wizard of Oz, the main street in Kennicott turns into a winding trail to the north and leads to the most incredible views. This particular adventure maps out the 4-mile round-trip hike to the toe of Root Glacier. Trekking on the glacier requires crampons and puts climbers in danger of icefall and crevasses. There are several professional guiding outfitters in Kennecott that run trips almost daily.
The trail from Kennecott doesn’t experience much elevation gain, making it choice for mountain bikers and families alike. Plus, the views are second to none. The Wrangell Mountains rise in all directions. These mountains are almost exclusively of volcanic origin and occupy an enormous swath of Alaska's southeastern territory. This range boasts the second and third largest volcanoes in the United States, Mount Blackburn (16,390 feet) and Mount Sanford (16,237 feet), which are reportedly still active—the last eruption is said to have happened in 1900. Meandering along the trail in the shadow of these behemoths offers a surreal experience of the staggering power of glacial activity and how climate change has definitively asserted its power on these delicate ecosystems.
Almost the entirety of the Wrangell Mountain Range is situated within America’s largest national park, the Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. It protects 13.2 million acres of land extending from the ocean to the top of Mount Saint Elias—an area larger than the country of Switzerland. Keep an eye out for the park’s most recognizable residents while hiking to Root Glacier—caribou abound, as do moose, dall sheep, and mountain goats. And if you notice that someone’s been gnawing on the sign for the toilet just past the turnoff for Root Glacier, you can be sure that there is a porcupine bumbling around nearby.