Great Glacier Trail to the Ice

Great Glacier Trail to the Ice

Doug Smith  September 10, 2021 at 9:00 am

The Great Glacier Trail in Glacier National Park starts at the main trailhead by the campground and follows Asulkan Creek upstream before heading up the Illecillewaet River Valley.   When the trail was first established, hikers could leave Glacier House  and walk for just 15 minutes to the toe of the Illecillewaet Glacier.   So now the trail winds up the valley and ends 1.5 km below the glacier.   The route from the end of the Great Glacier Trail to the glacier itself is up a steep, rocky slope.  

From Abbott Ridge (across the valley) we can look down to the end of trail in the bottom left corner and we can see the sculpted rock that has to be scrambled to get up to the ice/  

I have done this route a few times, enjoying the scrambling on rock up and back. 

Some of the sections are quite steep.    There is no trail and caution is required all the way up and down. 

This route is not for everyone.    I once did a solo ascent and a rain shower came in and soaked the rock, making it very slippery and treacherous.    It took me a long time to get down, arriving at dusk, long after I was expected.      the route is scenic, rugged, and challenging.  

The Illecillewaet Glacier continues to retreat so it will a longer scramble next time. 


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Doug Smith

Doug writes for Kamloops Trails, a not-for-profit (and ad free) website, offering information on trails, waterways, routes, featured spots, viewpoints, and explorations in the outdoors in the Kamloops area (and beyond).

Doug started exploring this area in 1976 and continues to follow tracks and routes wherever they lead, with the aid of map, compass, GPSr and camera. After many dead-ends, but also many discoveries, he chose to share this information.

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