If you have the time it is worth staying in the area to hike for a couple of days. There are trails up to Erie, Jumbo and Bonanza Mines as well as the ability to hike out on to Root Glacier.
We only had the time to pick one of the hikes and we opted to hike out onto the glacier. While the mines would certainly be cool, we saw some while we were in Nabesna and we hadn’t yet had the opportunity to hike out onto a massive block of ice.
One of the things that you immediately notice upon getting to Kennicott is the glacier. When you are in McCarthy you see all of these grayish/brown hills. As you get up to Kennicott you realize that those grayish/brown hills are actually part of the glacier they are just covered with dirt and rock.
The trail simply takes you outside of Kennicott and next to the glacier until you descend to a point that you can hop onto the glacier. We hopped on and walked around. While crampons would have been helpful it certainly wouldn’t have been worth the $20 rental fee. If you were careful, and planned your route you would be fine. There was a glacier waterfall and a small river that was flowing down the glacier as well. The water was literally ice cold and really quite delicious. Trevor and I continued our trend of getting into a body of water in each National Park and got into the frigid flow.
We walked around with Jason and were simply amazed. There were cracks in the glacier and you could see down undetermined distances. The bright blue colors of some of the thicker ice were mesmerizing. We took a lot of pictures and then decided it was time to head back into town so that we could catch one of the last vans down.
It was unfortunate that we didn’t have the time to do any of the mine hikes; I think that they get you high enough up that you get a rather incredible view of the surrounding area. I’ll just have to add it to the list of things to do for when I move back to Kennicott to open up a brewery in one of the old mining buildings.