Glacier kayakers in Alaska lake

Glacier Lake Kayaking:
A Splendidly Curated Adventure

January 17, 2017

Stillpoint Lodge’s Glacier Lake Kayaking trip combines three adventures into one: a boat ride in a gorgeous fjord, a hike through a boreal forest and terminal glacier moraine and kayaking with icebergs in Grewingk Glacier Lake. Add wildlife sightings and a gourmet picnic on the perfect spot overlooking the glacier and the trip of a lifetime is complete.


The boat ride to the trailhead is about 20-minutes from the Stillpoint Lodge dock. The boat glides through the sea-water, creating sparkling ripples in the calm, emerald-green waters of Halibut Cove. 

But the wildlife here is not phased by our activity, and we spot playful sea otters, seals, eagles and even whales. Head guide, Lucas Thoning, along with several guests once saw two humpback whales breach simultaneously while en route to the trailhead. We frequently also see black bears working their way along the coastline in the morning light.

Hikers on the Saddle Trail in Alaska

The trailhead for the Saddle Trail is in Alaska's first state park: Kachemak Bay State Park. Our boat captian drops guests right at the base of a set of wooden stairs that safely access the start of the trail from the rocky beach. The hike is along a well-maintained single track path through a lush forest of foliage and berry bushes, gaining just a little more than 300 feet in elevation.

The hike is just 1.3 miles to the shore of Grewingk Glacier Lake. Several hand-hewn bridges span gullies and streams, so feet stay dry and warm. Munch on blueberries, salmonberries and currants and take in breathtaking vistas in every direction. Follow the trail over the pass and through the valley, and then as you break through the trees, the shore of the glacier lake appears.

Beach view of Grewingk Glacier Lake

Grewingk Glacier was named in 1800 after the German geologist Constantin Grewingk. This massive ice monolith currently covers over 19,000 acres. It is one of 40 glaciers that extends from the largest icefield in the U.S., Harding Icefield, a gigantic sheet of ice that stretches to the Gulf of Alaska on the other side of the Kenai Peninsula.

The melting ice from the retreating glacier has created a 2.5-mile long fresh water lake. Crystal blue icebergs float lazily in the mineral-rich lake and Arctic terns make their home here on their own tiny private island. 3,500 foot mountains rise from the water framing the valley and the glacier, providing habitat for mountain goats, moose, coyote, linx and black bear.

Follow the shore of the lake to where our glacier kayaking trip begins. Our kayaks and gear are stored utilizing a generous permit from Kachemak Bay State Park. Guests enjoy a quick snack while the guide explains how to use all the gear including dry bags for personal items and extra warm paddling gloves.

Our fleet of extremely safe Sea Eagle FastTrack™ Inflatable Kayaks are the fastest and most stable inflatable kayaks on the market. Guests find that they offer a delightful paddling experience, and our guide staff finds them lightweight and easily stowable for protection from the elements and curious wildlife. Time to launch the kayaks!

Kayakers paddling past floating glaciers

Kayaker in front of a glacier in Alaska


Get upclose and personal with icebergs as you paddle toward the face of the glacier. Floating there in the silty grey water, one gets the sense that this experience is special and unique. No one else will see just what I've seen today; the ice is retreating, the wildlife are always moving, the clouds are ever-changing.

Sounds of the ice popping and cracking can be heard resonating from the glacier, foreshadowing the occassional and exciting glacier calving, a reminder to all to keep a safe viewing distance when glacier kayaking.

Glacier floating by in Grewingk Glacier Lake

Beaching the kayaks on a pull-out near the face of the glacier, the guide leads the guests up a scree field to the perfect overlook spot to enjoy a gourmet, custom-packed picnic lunch. The view is spectacular and selfie-worthy. Take some time to linger here over a cup of hot tea... this is the spot, this is the moment.

The paddle back to the far side of the glacier lake is a breeze, and on the hike out guests can choose to take a different route to see more of this beautiful land. The return boat pickup is coordinated with the captain for the exact time and location of each group, so guests can hike at the pace they are most comfortable.

"The trip of a lifetime!"- that's how many of our guests describe this day of glacier kayaking in Alaska. For most, the trip is perfectly timed get back to their cabin for a quick hot shower and still make it to happy hour... which everyone soon learns is a not-to-be-missed daily event... and they can't wait to tell the other guests and staff about their amazing day.

John Muir, the famous naturalist, wrote in his journal that you should never go to Alaska as a young man because you'll never be satisfied with any other place as long as you live. And there's a lot of truth to that.
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"John Muir, the famous naturalist, wrote in his journal that you should never go to Alaska as a young man because you'll never be satisfied with any other place as long as you live. And there's a lot of truth to that." -Tom Bodett

This highly-customiazable trip can accommodate young and old-- so whether you are just hiking to the shore of the lake, or make it all the way to the glacier and back, the sense of wonder is inescapable, and you will carry this experience in your heart forever.

Special Thanks to Lauren Peters and Lucas Thoning for sharing their photos for this post.

Words: Beka Thoning
Images: Lauren Peters, Beka Thoning and Lucas Thoning

For more information about this trip and more adventures with Stillpoint Lodge check out this page: Adventures

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