This hike was made famous by the running race that has occurred on it every Fourth of July since 1915. It draws elite and amateur trail runners from around the world, who race up and then down the mountain as fast as they can, doing all 3,022 feet in less three miles of distance. The fastest recorded time to date is just over 41 astonishing minutes!
For the non-racers, expect it to take most of a day. There are two options for this hike: the Runner’s Trail and the Jeep Trail. The latter is certainly recommended for most mortals—even the trailhead sign displays warnings of the difficulty of the Runner’s Trail! The Jeep Trail route will take you up to the top at varying degrees of incline, allowing you to take it at a relatively comfortable pace. It's a 4.1-mile loop.
Now don’t be too intimidated by the first mile of this hike—while it starts out as a rocky, steep incline, it mellows out shortly after that first push. You’ll travel along the tree line, through a meadow with gorgeous views of the tiny town of Seward, the Gulf of Alaska and all of the boats coming and going in Resurrection Bay.
Slowly but surely, you’ll make your way higher and higher until you reach “the bowl”. Runoff from the glacier in this area creates a small but audible flowing stream. This is a peaceful point to take a relaxing break or even to end your ascent at (I’ve hiked up to this point having “the bowl” as the goal of my hike, and it can be just as satisfying as making it to the summit!).
After the bowl, the hike to the top is short but strenuous, and is very windy. You’ll need a good windbreaker or a warm jacket from here on out. It pays to take your time on the final stretch, even if you have to rest every few steps. When you make it to the top, you will feel like a champion of the Fourth of July race!
The great thing about this hike is no matter how far you make it—up to the tree line, the bowl, or all the way to the summit—you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views and a feeling of accomplishment.