McCarthy-Kennicott Points of Interest

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Points of Interest

How and where to find Alaska’s glac­i­ers — some of the state’s most beau­ti­ful nat­ur­al attractions

Known in town as The Toe,” this area — the toe of the glac­i­er — is a large open space at, yes, the toe of the glac­i­er. It’s also rel­a­tive­ly hid­den, so you won’t find many peo­ple here. What you will find: a lake that’s formed below the ice, the spec­tac­u­lar dis­play of rocks falling off the ice into the water, and, some­times, a par­ty or con­cert (an aban­doned flatbed truck serves as the stage). There’s also space for camp­ing — even a Park Ser­vice bear…  ...more

As you cross this bridge, you will notice that the Cop­per Riv­er below you is quite dirty. Mil­lions of tons of rock dust are scoured off of dis­tant moun­tains by glac­i­ers and car­ried down­riv­er each year. These silty waters are the per­fect camoflague for samon swim­ming up the riv­er to spawn.

Owned and oper­at­ed by the Nation­al Park Ser­vice, this hall often hosts speak­ers, movies, potlucks, yoga, music, wed­dings, and oth­er com­mu­ni­ty events. You’ll like­ly see fly­ers around town about these events, which are usu­al­ly held for no charge (though they may request dona­tions). If there is some­thing going on dur­ing your vis­it to town, don’t be shy; it’s worth your while to find out what’s hap­pen­ing. And check in at the NPS vis­i­tor cen­ter to see  ...more

Locals say that where the road ends, the adven­ture begins,” and the McCarthy Road (an adven­ture in itself) abrupt­ly ends at the Ken­ni­cott Riv­er. This is a glacial­ly-birthed tor­rent, and the best place to watch the action is from the footbridge.

If you’re hik­ing up to Ken­ni­cott from McCarthy and would like a 1- to 2‑hour diver­sion, the toe of the glac­i­er is it. There are some amaz­ing moun­tain views, and a good chance you’ll see a unique move­ment of nature involv­ing rock, ice, and glacial silt. When you’re here, imag­ine your­self back in the ear­ly 1900s: McCarthy was a boom­town, and this land was com­plete­ly cov­ered by ice. That’s obvi­ous­ly changed, and the cur­rent lake will like­ly be 10…  ...more

The road may end here but the jour­ney isn’t over yet. Ken­necott Riv­er Pedes­tri­an Bridge cross­es the main chan­nel of the riv­er, pro­vid­ing access to the road lead­ing to the town of McCarthy and the old min­ing town of Ken­necott. You can walk or bicy­cle the .6 miles to the town of McCarthy or the 5 miles to the his­toric min­ing town of Ken­necott. Look for the old hand-pulled, open plat­form cable tram next to the pedes­tri­an bridge. Before the state  ...more

Along the road get good views of Ken­ni­cott Glac­i­er, Mount Black­burn and Fire­weed Moun­tain. McCarthy served as the sup­ply and recre­ation stop for the Ken­ni­cott Min­ing Dis­trict. Today, the town looks much like it did when it was first estab­lished in 1906 thanks to the local who have restored and pre­served the orig­i­nal buildings. 

Eight signs will guide you through the Cop­per Riv­er water­shed land­scape. See if you can vis­it all eight signs on your tour through this upriv­er basin formed by the ancient, glacial Lake Atna!

This clas­sic swim­ming hole is a local favorite — it’s the per­fect spot to relax on a hot sum­mer day. You’ll find it at the sec­ond foot­bridge, a 5‑minute walk from the Ken­ni­cott Riv­er, where you can park your car. Lounge on the beach or even go swim­ming — the water’s rel­a­tive­ly warm when the sun is shin­ing. While here, you can also explore near the toe of Ken­ni­cott Glac­i­er and find all sorts of inter­est­ing glacial fea­tures, includ­ing a terminal…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Look­ing for a mel­low 3- to 4‑hour walk and a nice spot to relax with a book or a jour­nal? Check out McCarthy Creek. To get here, just walk straight through McCarthy’s Main Street, past Ma John­son’s Hotel (on the left), down the hill, and past the Wrangell Moun­tain Center.

The Wrangell Moun­tain Cen­ter is a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to wilder­ness edu­ca­tion and cre­ative arts, housed in the old hard­ware store; stop by and see if any events are being held dur­ing your vis­it. There’s a kiosk out front with a sched­ule that often includes free lec­tures by vis­it­ing biol­o­gists, artists, nat­u­ral­ists, and stu­dents. Activ­i­ties include ear­ly morn­ing bird walks, gar­den­ing lessons, open-mic poet­ry jams, films on local…  ...more

Every­one’s wel­come to come play soft­ball — gloves, bats, and balls are all pro­vid­ed! McCarthy’s soft­ball nights typ­i­cal­ly begin some­time after 5 p.m. Fri­day from June through August. You may see signs about this fun activ­i­ty around town, or over­hear folks talk­ing about it. Don’t be shy. Head down the street just to the right of Wrangell Moun­tain Air (in down­town” McCarthy) and take the first left up the hill to the field. You’ll get a beautiful…  ...more

Talk about an authen­tic pio­neer town. Time seems to have stood still on McCarthy’s Main Street, which is unpaved, only a few hun­dred yards long, and lined with clas­sic build­ings and memorabilia.Some vis­i­tors walk through McCarthy and com­plain that there’s noth­ing to do — and that’s exact­ly why folks like liv­ing here. But while you may not find much activ­i­ty, you will find a lot of his­to­ry: In the town’s hey­day there were sev­er­al hotels,…  ...more

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