When entering the city of Seward, Alaska, it is impossible to miss the awe-inspiring Mount Alice. The mountain is visible from nearly everywhere, and its allure can be felt for anyone who has a desire to explore the mountains of the Kenai Peninsula.
Even those who prefer to enjoy the beauty of Seward from afar will have a deep appreciation for the giant towering sentinel that is Mount Alice.
Whether you have seen this mountain with your own eyes and are ready to enjoy it up close and personal, or you are just looking for things to do in Seward, follow along as I give the rundown on the very special Mount Alice Trail.
Mount Alice: Hiking up Seward’s Tallest Mountain
Overview of the Mount Alice Trail:
Mount Alice is the tallest mountain in the area around Seward, Alaska. At its highest, Mount Alice reaches an elevation of 5,318 feet.
This number compared to the elevations of other prominent mountains in the country makes it seem quite small. But it is important to remember that the Kenai Mountains (mostly) rise straight out of the ocean.
Even though the elevation of Mount Alice is comparatively tame, the vertical feet traveled when hiking up this giant mountain is not easily ignored. The trailhead for the Mount Alice Trail is at an elevation of less than 150 feet above sea level.
From the bottom to the tippy-top, a climber would be gaining over 5,000 vertical feet. That is no easy climb.
Here are some quick facts about the Mount Alice Trail.
- Distance: ~4.9 miles to Lookout Point, ~6 miles to Godwin Glacier Viewpoint (both distances are roundtrip)
- Elevation Gain: ~2,975 feet to Lookout Point, ~3,530 feet to Godwin Glacier Viewpoint
- Difficulty: Hard-Severe
- Time to Complete: Around 5 hours out-and-back
- Traffic: Moderately to lightly trafficked
Even though it’s pretty easy to find details about this hike online (such as in this article), the trail still feels like a well-kept secret. The trailhead is not marked in any way; no signs exist along the entirety of this trail.
Because of this, it is important to come prepared.
The first step for good preparation is knowing where to find the trailhead. The easiest way to find where you will begin your hike is by clicking the “direction” button on the AllTrails listing for the Alice Mountain Lookout trail.
Clicking that button will allow you to map directly to the start of the trail, with a place to park on the opposite side of the road.
If you are starting from downtown Seward, take Third Avenue northbound. Before you reach Herman Leirer Rd, take a right turn onto Nash Rd. Drive on Nash Rd for about 3 miles, at which point you will reach a parking area on the right.
It is less of a parking lot and more of a pull-off. Make sure to park in a way that is considerate to other people.
Mount Alice Trail Guide:
Once you have parked, direct your attention towards the opposite side of the road where you will notice a small gap in the bushes and trees. Safely cross the road and enter through the brush, where you will make a quick climb.
The trail soon widens considerably, taking the form of a steep path aimed directly up the mountain.
Trekking through trees…
For people who aren’t used to Alaska’s incredibly steep hiking, this first section may serve as a test for how the rest of the hike will go. The first mile takes you through a dense forest of Sitka spruce and hemlock trees, rarely letting up in its steep grade.
This goes for the entire trail, but it is important to watch out for wildlife. Bears and moose frequent the area.
As you climb through the trees, pockets of sky will poke through the hemlocks, where you’ll catch your first views of the Mount Alice summit since hitting the trail. It’s always tempting (and usually warranted) to stop for a picture at every point of beauty.
Just a little ways ahead, however, the views get even better.
The trail will pop you out onto a relatively level area with knee-height ferns and tall grasses. The urge to frolick is not one you should be ashamed of.
There is a little spur trail that leads to the left as you hike into this open field. Take this path for a good place to stop and rest as well as some great views looking back west towards the city of Seward. Backtrack to hop back on the main trail.
Continue hiking east through the tall grass. This area is pretty overgrown at times. After a good rain, walking through this grass can leave your pants soaked.
Eventually you will reach a point where two different paths are available: one that continues east and one that takes a hard right to the south. Take the trail to the right in order to head up towards the top of Mount Alice’s southern ridge.
Reaching the ridge…
The trail to the right will send you through some alder trees, weaving in and out as you climb towards the ridgeline. As you climb upwards through those patches of alders, the view of the bay below becomes grander.
As a word of caution, this area is where we have encountered a moose in the past. If you’re not paying close attention, a moose can take you by surprise as it stands behind the alder trees (as it did for us).
Another fork will appear in the trail, with one trail heading up an incline to the hiker’s left, and another continuing forward. Take the left trail to continue climbing towards the ridge. The other trail doesn’t actually lead anywhere, but save your energy by not mistakenly taking a longer route.
After a little while, you will reach the alpine tundra. With no barriers to stop your vision, the whole of Resurrection Bay is visible below.
On a clear day, it truly feels like you can see forever. If you want panoramic views of the entire city of Seward and miles of coastline, this is one of the best places to get them.
Climbing up the southern ridge…
The trail continues heading east along the ridge. At this point, you are about halfway to the best and most dramatic lookout point this trail offers. Hiking another 1.3 miles will land you at the “main” lookout point, which is where the AllTrails track will take you.
As the trail climbs the southern ridge, the steep dropoff to the left of the trail will get larger and larger. It’s always fun to walk to the edge and look into the glacial valley below.
At the base of the Mount Alice peak, there is a small glacier that once filled in this valley, a remnant of the receding Godwin Glacier. It will soon disappear entirely, with only the shape of the mountain to serve as a reminder of what once was.
If you look out towards the Gulf of Alaska, you may notice a group of blue buildings that are sitting on the southern side of the mountain. This is the Spring Correctional Center.
The Spring Correctional Center is a maximum-security prison for men that can house up to 500 inmates. You can also spot Seward’s dry dock on the coast.
The steepness will occasionally let up and offer a brief break from the constant climb, but not for long at all. It’s usually at this point on the trail that I realize how I could be in better shape.
This alpine tundra biome is an ideal area for marmots to hang out. I think I’ve seen or heard one every time I’ve hiked this trail.
If you hear a high-pitched squeal that almost sounds like a whistle, chances are that it’s a marmot responding to your presence in their area. Marmots can be feisty little dudes, so make sure to give them plenty of space if you happen to cross paths with one.
Around 2.3 miles into the hike, make a turn to the right to reach the proper Lookout Point. This is the point that the AllTrails track will take you.
Take the 0.2 mile detour to reach a point that is slightly more elevated but offers greater views to the southeast towards a wide convergence of glacial valleys.
The extra elevation and mileage is worth it. You won’t get a view of the actual Godwin Glacier from this point, however.
If all you want from this trail is a good view of the bay and to get intimate with the Kenai Mountains, feel free to turn around and head back at any point.
However, if you still have much more energy in the reserves, trekking on towards the summit ridge will provide incredible views of Godwin Glacier.
Don’t bother taking the short detour to Lookout Point if you’re planning to reach the summit ridge. You will get the same views and even better ones from the ridge than you will at Lookout Point.
Godwin Glacier Overlook…
From the point where you would have turned right to reach Lookout Point, continue east for another 0.4 miles, heading straight up the steep slope towards the ridgeline.
As you crest the final hill, you will be greeted with expansive views of glacial terrain, including the rapidly receding Godwin Glacier.
This glacier once filled the entire valley, including the areas where the prison and dry dock are situated. It stretched all the way to the ocean.
Over 150 years ago, Godwin Glacier was calving into Resurrection Bay. This is a crazy thing to think about, especially once you see how far back into the mountains the toe of the glacier now rests.
For the true adventurer (who is also properly prepared) you can gain the true summit of Mount Alice from this ridge.
The Kenai Mountains aren’t known for having the best rock, and reaching the summit of Alice requires some sketchy climbing on brittle, loose shale.
But for those who are looking for a thrill, and who are armed with the right knowledge and skills, reaching the summit is a feat not many people, even locals, can say they’ve done.
This Summit Post article does a good job providing necessary information for climbers, so take a look if you’re interested.
Once you’ve had your fill at the top of the ridge, head back the way you came to reach your car.
Things to Remember for the Mount Alice Trail:
- Practice Leave No Trace principles – You should always leave the trail either as good or better than you found it. Whatever you pack in, make sure to pack out. Limit the impact we have on the landscape in every way you can.
- Bring plenty of water and ample snacks – This is a strenuous trail that may take longer than you expect. Come prepared with more than enough water and extra snacks. Make sure your hiking partner does the same.
- Always let someone know where you will be when heading into the mountains – Even on fairly popular trails, it is generally a good idea to let someone who isn’t part of the hiking party know where you will be. If something happens on the trail that prevents you from returning, that person will be able to help start rescue efforts.
- Be mindful of/respect the wildlife – This is wild land (for the most part). We are entering the domain of a variety of animals, all of which deserve our respect. Let the wildlife know you are there by making plenty of noise. Talking in a normal tone with the occasional “Hey, Bear!” shout will do the trick.
- Never take on more than you can handle – Climbing mountains comes with inherent danger. When planning a trip and/or actually traveling on the mountain, be honest and realistic with what your party can handle. The last thing you need is a miserable experience on a beautiful mountain.
Other hikes to check out near Seward, Alaska:
- Lost Lake Trail ~ 14 miles roundtrip
- Tonsina Point Trail ~ 4 miles roundtrip
- Mount Marathon Jeep Trail ~ 4 miles roundtrip
- Harding Icefield Trail ~ 9 miles roundtrip
Josiah Bonner is the middle child of Todd and Julie Bonner. Having gained the invaluable experience of living on the road with his family, he felt overcome with the desire to continue exploring. That search landed him in Seward, Alaska, where he currently resides. His love for the outdoors is welcome with open arms in the Last Frontier, and with an endless amount of hiking and backpacking to be done, he’s eager to share the best that Alaska has to offer.