Kluane Ice Cave


Distance: 13 km
Elevation Gain: 545 m (1788 ft)
Time: 4 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Region: Kluane
Date Added: April 1, 2018
Last Update: April 1, 2018
Winter: ski touring snowshoeing 



Once a well-kept secret by the locals, this hike went viral as scores of Yukoners and tourists have since flocked to this accessible ice cave. The route is easy to follow up a creek bed, which takes you right to the cave, with its huge arch of blue ice. There are stunning views of the Kluane Mountain Range on the way to make this a pleasant hike for all skill levels. NOTE: Only the winter route has been recorded.


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Photos
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Driving Directions

From Haines Junction, continue north on the Alaska Highway for a total of 13.4 km. There is no pullout or parking lot for the trailhead, but there are wide shoulders on either side of the highway. As another landmark, the trailhead is about 3.4 km passed the turnoff for the Alsek Trail. Watch for the trailhead on the left (south) side of the highway marked with flagging.




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Trail Description

Only the winter route has been recorded for this hike.


Winter

During this time of year, the frozen creek bed provides an easy hike option in mid-winter and early spring before the ice breaks up. This hike is suitable for snowshoeing and ski touring (nordic touring skis or even cross country skis are great). Depending on conditions you may not even need snowshoes, so keep in mind recent snowfall and whether you'll be hiking in warmer spring-like weather when postholing could be a problem.

From the trailhead follow a well-used trail heading through the trees to the south. The trail winds through stunted trees to reach a creek bed within the first 300 m. Follow the creek bed upstream (right), where the elevation gain is very gradual the whole way to the cave. You may encounter overflow ice and bare ice along the way, which can easily be avoided by sticking to the snowier patches.

As you approach the cave you can see the moraines left by the retreating glacier and then the opening of the ice cave. With good weather you can catch a glimpse of northeast face of Mount Archibald with its hanging glacier. The cave itself is deceivingly deeper and larger than it looks from the outside. If you choose to explore the cave, use extra caution. While the ice arch is several meters thick at its narrowest, there's still plenty of evidence of ice blocks and rocks falling from the ceiling of the cave. Be particularly careful during warmer weather and extreme temperature swings. Know the risk that ice could fall or the cave could collapse at any time, and do not spend too much time inside the cave.

Return the way you came. If you are looking for a longer hike there are ridges to explore to the south and north, especially in the spring when the snow has started to melt and there's bare ground to hike on.


Note: Overnight trips in Kluane National Park and Reserve require registration and approved bear resistant food canisters. Please visit the Park's website for details.

Elevations

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Comments / Trip Reports

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BSKTJ
April 14, 2018

April 14, 2018 - Stellar day! Departed “trailhead” at 10:30 am. Excellent conditions hiking to the Ice Caves (because we left early). Enjoyed a lunch at the Ice Caves “restaurant” with excellent views of the Ruby Range. Debris had recently fallen at the entrance, but not on our heads! Departed the Ice Caves at 1 pm. Conditions became slushy and soft rather quickly we were glad for snowshoes! Saved us from postholing!
Phil
April 4, 2018

Really nice hiking on Friday Mar 30. Yaktrax or similar would have been useful especially coming back down. 30 or so cars were parked on shoulder when we got there but trail wasn't really crowded.
Shannon
April 1, 2018

Hiked Easter Sunday. Beautifully clear but very strong winds. The trail was very icy so having a set of YakTrax would be useful especially for the trip down. We started the hike at 10:30. There were about 10 vehicles along the highway. By time we got down there were about 40. The trail never felt crowded The trip up is definitely worth the hike. Beautiful views the whole way up and down.