Carbon Glacier Trail

Trail route from Carbon River entrance to the Carbon Glacier/ NW.

A map of the Carbon Glacier Trail route from the Carbon River entrance at northwest corner of park. Use of a topographic map of area is recommended.


Trail Description:

Carbon Glacier

Distance, round-trip:

17 miles

Elevation gain:

1640 feet

Hiking time, round-trip:

9 hours

Wilderness camps:

Ipsut Creek
Carbon River


This is the best trail to experience a glacier first hand. The trail follows the Carbon River through the forest to the snout of the glacier. Beware of rocks falling from the glacier snout. Do not approach the glacier -- enjoy the view from the constructed trail.

The trail begins now at the Carbon River entrance at the northwest border of the park because flooding altered the roadbed and closed the road to vehicles. Bikes are allowed on the portion of the trail on the old road bed, from the Carbon River Entrance to Ipsut Creek Campground. Bikes are not allowed on trails past the campground.

After reaching Ipsut Creek Campground, the trail maintains a gentle uphill grade as it parallels the Carbon River. At 1.7 miles from the Ipsut Creek Campground, cross the Carbon River on a foot log bridge. Once across, continue to hike upriver to reconnect to the Wonderland Trail at the Carbon River Suspension Bridge. Do not cross the suspension bridge, continue straight to the Carbon Glacier overlook.

Along the

This hike offers a close-up view of the lowest glacier in elevation in the contiguous 48 states and the source of the Carbon River. Do not approach the glacier as rock and ice fall are common!


Two camps are located along this trail, at 5 miles (Ipsut Creek) and 8 miles (Carbon River) from the trailhead at the Carbon River Ranger Station. Backcountry permits are required for camping. Permits and current trail conditions are available park-wide from wilderness information centers, ranger stations, and visitor centers. Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.

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