I went camping with my brother and some friends last Labor Day and found what just became my new favorite campsite! For two mornings in a row, we woke up to watch the sunrise over Grewingk Lake with spectacular ice chunks and a blue Grewingk Glacier in the distance.
Did you know Grewingk Glacier is named after Constantin Grewingk?
Kachemak State Park is a short water taxi from Homer and home to Grewingk Lake, our campsite after a flat 3-mile trail from the beach. Not only will nature here blow you away here but we only saw 2 other groups camping the entire weekend despite it being a national holiday which means you’ll have this place virtually to yourself!
Our water taxi departed Homer at noon and only took 30 minutes to get to our dropoff in Katchamak State Park.
This adventure’s motley crew included some of my brother’s church friends and the best-behaved chocolate lab I’ve ever met, aka Barrowly. Our plan was to explore the nearby alpine trail after setting up our tents and catch a good view of the glacier that afternoon. Keep reading to find out why this plan should have just been to relax at the lake and plan a big hike the next day!
Grewingk Glacier Trail
I did exactly zero planning for this trip but rather was spending my days getting my new classroom ready and subsequently lesson planning. It’s been almost 2 years that I’ve been on sabbatical/blogging fulltime and this is my first post where I’m back to work again.
(This photo is from the Saddle River Trail on our way back to the water taxi. Other Kachemak Bay State Park trails led to spectacular places but the trails themselves weren’t as photogenic)
When I wandered through this trail I kept thinking about my Denali backcountry adventure and knew this place couldn’t compare. But then, as we rounded the bend and I caught a glimpse of Grewingk Glacier I knew this would be an awesome trip.
Be sure to wake up early if you want to see a reflection like this!
It takes about an hour to walk from the spit, where we were dropped off, to the campsite. The trail ended abruptly revealing floating icebergs before us. Huge boulders of blue and white drift near the shore forcing ripples into the sands creating a melodic chime and thwarting any icy reflection in these silty, gray waters.
These used to be icebergs but have shrunk. Large ice chunks like this are known as bergy bits and smaller ones are called growlers.
Did you know Kachamak Bay State Park is Alaska’s only wilderness park (the rest of our wilderness parks are national) and was Alaska’s very first state park! It’s a gorgeous place to visit with affordable Water taxis available for $40 each way. We camped on the Homer spit the night before and but you should reserve a room in Homer if you want a real bed (especially during the high season).
Bear Safety in Kachemak State Park
- Carry Bear Spray!
- Use Bear Canisters.
- Make noise, sing, shout “Hey Bear”
- Travel in groups.
- Stay 300 yds away (if possible) from any bears you encounter.
- If a BROWN bear attacks, use your bear spray.
If it’s on top of you PLAY DEAD!
- If a BLACK bear attacks, use your bear spray.
If it’s on top of you FIGHT BACK!
We found fresh water at Grewingk Glacier after deciding not to filter the super silty lake water. If you turn left at the first T leaving the lake you’ll see a small trail off to the right and hear the trickle of a stream. I recommend filling from here to keep your filter from working double time. You should still follow water safety guidelines here but this water is much cleaner!
However you decide to enjoy Kachemak State Park and Grewingk Glacier I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. There were a number of people we saw that came here for a day trip but if you can then I highly recommend some Kachemak Bay camping!
Grewingk Glacier Lake Camping
The best hike on this trip was the blue ice trail and I highly recommend doing this one instead of the alpine ridge trail. It takes about 8 hours round trip and requires you to cross a hand tram but yields one of the most spectacular glacial views I’ve ever seen!
A Kachemak Bay Map and more info about Grewingk Glacier can be found at the Alaska Parks website.
We saw hundreds of black bear droppings but managed not to see a single bear on this trip. A couple of bald eagles greeted us from time to time along with the occasional squirrel but then again, wildlife isn’t the reason you camp on the Grewingk Glacier Trail. Even so, it is imperative that you practice bear safety throughout your stay in Kachemak State Park.
There are bear boxes at the main Grewingk Glacier Lake campsite. You should put all food and anything that smells in them overnight. If you aren’t staying at the main campsite I highly recommend bringing a bear canister.
All food and anything that smells must go into a bear box overnight! You can get these portable ones from various places in Homer but you might want to buy your own carrying case.
We tried both the alpine trail and the blue ice trail. The views of the bay were great and the truth is we didn’t get all the way to the top of this 2200 ft climb. But, if you only have time for one hike here then make sure its the blue ice trail!
The alpine trail was a hard hike and gave nice views of Kachemak Bay but I would recommend the blue ice trail to the glacier if you’re on a tight schedule. Back: Ben, George, Mike, Lauren Front: Jason, Jessie
Alaska has been a phenomenal surprise this past year and I’ve been to half dozen different campsites already but can honestly say this was one of the most stunning campsites I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying at. I feel like this is the type of place I was warned about here in Alaska. Warned that it would make me fall in love with this beautiful state and keep me here forever. Warned that once I’ve camped next to a glacier nothing else will compare. Then warned again and told not to share these hidden gems.
Those warnings almost made me not share about this Grewingk Glacier hike and fantastic holiday trip. The truth is I’m still torn. I don’t think of this blog as large enough to have such an impact and I want to share this natural beauty with all of you. But, on the off chance that this post takes off I would hate to be the reason Grewingk gets overrun by tourists. So just this once I’m not going to ask you to share my post. Instead I just want you to enjoy these photos and start planning your trip to Alaska!
More photos from this adventure and others can be found on the @LiveTravelTeach Instagram Account and don’t forget to follow www.LiveTravelTeach.com by adding your email at the top of this page to make sure you don’t miss any of these amazing adventures!
Disclaimer: This is the internet and It is safe to assume that links and content contained on this webpage provide compensation to the website’s owner. The opinions here are my own and the information here is accurate as of September 2018. Unless otherwise labeled, all photos and video were taken by Mike Still.