Flute Glacier

Chugach State Park
This hike was rated 3 stars.
Submitted By
Frank Baker
Difficulty
Somewhat Difficult
Miles One Way
12
Miles from Anchorage
25; on the outskirts of the town of Eagle River
Season
May to September

Description

Easy walk to Eagle Lake, then skirt left-hand side of lake for about two miles – there is a small trail. You’ll criss-cross the stream for the easiest walking. Proceed up steep scree slope, connect with trail that takes you into the canyon. Proceed up canyon about two miles until you reach toe of Flute Glacier. This glacier is crevassed and only part of it is safe to travel on without glacier training and equipment. A route up Eagle Peak is available from this location at toe of glacier.

Important Information

After skirting Eagle Lake, remove hiking boots, socks, and put on tennis shoes. This will allow you to take the easiest route along the stream to the end of the valley, crossing the small stream several times and walking on gravel bars. Once you walk the mile to the head of the valley, before you ascend into the canyon, remove tennis shoes, and put on hiking boots with nice, dry, warm socks! Leave tennis shoes there – nobody will take them, at least, no one would ever take MINE!

Water is plentiful but build in lots of time because it’s a 24-mile round trip if you decide not to camp at Eagle and/or Symphony Lake. Winds can really rip through the canyon so be prepared with protective clothing.

Etc.

Note from the webmaster: I’m real glad Frank submitted this hike. I’ve been to Eagle and Symphony Lakes quite often and really love it there. I’ve always wanted to check this glacier out but for some reason I never have. He has definitely motivated me to get cracking.

PS: If you’d like to educate yourself about glaciers and their awesome power, please visit All About Glaciers, a great introductory website.

Finding the Trailhead

Take the Glenn Highway to the Eagle River Loop / Hiland Road exit. Turn right off the highway, and then another right onto Hiland Road, which you will follow for several miles, nearly all the way to the end. Turn right on South Creek Road, then another right on West Creek Drive. The parking area for the trailhead will be on your left. This is a very popular trail, and on a busy summer weekend (especially if the weather is nice), expect to find cars overflowing the parking lot and lined all along the side of the road.

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Topo Map

Flute Glacier topo map

Comments on hiking Flute Glacier

  1. The following is an update by Frank Baker:

    I must re-try the right-hand side of Eagle Lake, at Micah McGuire’s suggestion. In years past it didn’t seem to be a very good trail–but if Micah says it’s better than the left side, I believe him!

    Better yet, of course, would be to have a small pack raft stashed up there. If the wind was right, a small sail and voila!, you’d be in business.

  2. The following was submitted by Nic, if you want to just hike to the waterfall:

    For this trail it is best to cross the land bridge between Eagle and Symphony Lakes, there is less brush and it’s a bit quicker. Once you come to the end of the lake it gets a little more difficult. You will have to criss cross the stream many times to find your way, prepare to get your feet wet, and route finding skills are essential. You might also want to check for footprints of other hikers to find a good route. Also, try to stick to the dry gravel bars for the best walking. The creek flowing into Eagle Lake is heavily silted and ice cold, test the depth with a stick or rock before you cross. Approaching the waterfall at the back of the valley there is a big meander, and what looks to be remains of a rock slide. If you want to go past the waterfall to Flute Glacier then stay to the left of it (if you aren’t already.) Going to the right is an option but it is extremely difficult because you have to cross the waterfall at the top, and boy, it’s a long way down! Anyway staying to the left is key, then climb the scree slope to the top of the waterfall. I believe there is some more trail before the glacier – I have only been as far as the waterfall.

  3. The following was submitted by Clint Helander (who also graciously provided photos):

    Well, we went on the Flute Glacier backpacking trip this weekend and let me just say, it was amazing. There were some tiring vertical climbs of 4000+ feet, but it was very do-able. Here’s a summary of our trip.

    We started at about 11 AM from the trailhead and arrived at the land bridge between Eagle and Symphony Lakes about 2 hours later. It was here that we set up base camp. We camped on the Southside of Eagle Lake, directly across from Hurdygurdy Mountain. After setting up camp we had plenty of daylight and decided to summit the 4750 foot peak directly west of Catana Peak. We did so and were amazed at the view. It was well worth it. We came down and returned to camp with the sun setting in the east. It made for a great photography session. We ate dinner and headed to bed.

    We woke up and were on the trail by about 10 AM the next morning. We packed light, knowing that the route to the Flute Glacier was challenging at many points. We brought some food, plenty of water, our cameras, crampons, and an extra jacket. Hiking east towards Catana Peak through the various tributaries was rather easy, but required multiple stream crossings which made me thankful I’d brought extra socks and tennis shoes. After this we veered to the right and ascended about 400 vertical feet of loose scree and came up over the first of 3 steep humps. The valley provided many peaceful views of mountains and snow traced peaks. After another mile we were beckoned with another 4000+ vertical scree ascent which proved tiring, but doable. We arrived at the glacier and were excited to explore it.

    Webmaster’s note: Clint has a lot of experience on glaciers. Please do not attempt the following if you have no glacial traveling experience. Your risk of a fatal injury is high!

    We didn’t use ropes on the glacier, but did use crampons and trekking poles and self arresting devices. We walked about 1/2 mile up the glacier until we got to some serious crevasses, some as much as 70 feet deep and a glowing blue. The glacier was firm, but we weren’t going to risk going up further without the appropriate safety equipment. We explored for about 2 hours on the glacier, ate some lunch, then headed back down to base camp.

    When we arrived at base camp we’d already decided that we were ready to go home so we’d made good time. We disassembled camp and rocketed down the trail, getting to our car at the trailhead just as the last light of day crept over the horizon.

    This hike was probably one of my favorite hikes that I’ve ever done. There are astounding views all around and the destination is well worth the effort. Our trip was about 30 miles…9 the first day and 21 the second day.

    Webmaster’s note: Clint was a student at University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and was Vice-President of the UAA Outdoor Club when he did this trip.

  4. The following was submitted by Micah McGuire (Chugachpics):

    Instead of traversing along the left side of Eagle Lake, try walking along that land bridge between Eagle and Symphony, then angle left into the tundra and try to find the big trail that runs the length of the right side of Eagle Lake. It is a much easier trail than the left side, and can knock a significant amount of time off your trip.

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