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Glacier Discovery Project


The Glacier Discovery Project is a linked three hut system along the Glacier Discovery Trail in the Kenai Mountains. Working in partnership with Chugach National Forest and the Alaska Railroad, Alaska Huts plans to build a 18 bed hut, the Lars Spurkland Memorial Hut, overlooking Spencer Glacier, followed by two 8-10 bed huts at Bartlett Glacier and Trail Creek. Patrons will be able to ride the Alaska Railroad to access this unique wilderness valley (shared with the Alaska Railroad’s most spectacular segment, the Grandview Corridor) while staying at night in comfortable accommodations that foster camaraderie, wilderness education and high adventure.

The plan for the Glacier Discovery System is augmented by the Chugach National Forest’s plan to build the Glacier Discovery Trail, a trail that will connect the Lars Spurkland Memorial Hut, Bartlett Glacier Hut and Trail Creek Hut. The Glacier Discovery Trail is a Forest Service project under construction.

In the summer (when the Alaska Railroad is running), the Glacier Discovery Project will be a railroad accessible hut-to-hut system. To access the Lars Spurkland Memorial Hut, the first of three huts in the Glacier Discovery System, visitors will travel via train from Portage to Spencer Whistle Stop and hike the short distance from the whistlestop to the Hut site. Visitors can then take the train from the Spencer Whistle Stop to the  Grandview Whistle Stop and hike in a short distance to the Bartlett Glacier Hut. Glacier Discovery System visitors will also be able to raft or kayak out the Placer River, which is the drainage for Spencer Glacier lake.

In the winter the Lars Spurkland Memorial Hut, Bartlett Glacier Hut and Trail Glacier Hut will be accessible over land travel via snow bike, skis or snowmobile, pending snow conditions. The Spencer Glacier area is already a popular snowmobile destination, which makes human powered access easier.



What needs to be done?

  • Raise $1,140,000 to build the Lars Spurkland Memorial Hut at Spencer Glacier. We need your support! Here’s how you can help.
  • Once Alaska Huts has secured full funding for the Lars Spurkland Memorial Hut, they can request a construction and operating permit from the Forest Service – a process that takes 6 months.
  • Begin the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) and SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) review process for the Bartlett Glacier and Trail Creek Hut sites in collaboration with the Forest Service.
  • Engender further project support from the community, local foundations, grantors, non-profit organizations and tour operators in the Glacier Discovery System Area.


Lars Spurkland Memorial Hut is named in honor of Lars Spurkland. Lars was an avid skier and leader in Anchorage’s ski community, as President of the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage and head coach of the East High School Ski team. “He’s just one of those people who did a lot for the ski community and didn’t expect anything in return. He coached high school skiing because he loved skiing. He was president of the NSAA because he loved skiing and it was a position that needed to be filled — he was one of those people from our generation who was stepping up for that.” Lars Spurkland passed away at the age of 39 in December 2014 of a brain aneurysm. He was a beloved friend, husband, and son who loved to be in the mountains and in Alaska’s backcountry. “I really do believe that Lars enjoyed himself the most high in the mountains, and he spent as much time there as he could,” Lars’ brother Jan Spurkland writes. Alaska Huts hopes that the Lars Spurkland Memorial Hut will embody his spirit of exploration in the mountains and community involvement.

We want to hear from you! Please fill out this survey about the Lars Spurkland Memorial Hut and Glacier Discovery hut-to-hut system to show support or express any concerns:

A huge thank you to those who have contributed to the Lars Spurkland Memorial Hut thus far.

Corporate Sponsorships and Grants include:

  • Rasmuson Foundation, $350,000
  • M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, $300,000
  • The Atwood Foundation, $150,000
  • ConocoPhillips Spirit of Conservation, $15,000

Individual Donors include:

Tobben & Tiana Spurkland, Doug & Helen O’Harra, Jane Stavert, John Wolfe & Gretchen Nelson, Richard Navitsky, Jessica Holden Braunlich, Diann Sewald, Gayle & Helen Nienhueser, Dakota Chastain, Jennifer Willette, Nathan Lukes, Jonathan Rubini, Alaska Wildland Adventures Inc., Robert Scher & Kerry Reardon, Kevin & Michelle Turinsky, Kevin Banks & Paula Davis, John & Margaret Wolfe, Kirk & Gabrielle Hoessle, Susan Elliott, Sandra Estenson, Ray Brudie & Kathleen Metcalfe, Chelsea Holmes, Stephanie Patton, Kwie-Hoa Siem, Gar & Julie Carothers, Bob & Gail French, Heather & Doug Johnson, Edward & Karen Von Breyman, Marilyn Connor & Barbara Maier, Brett Roth, Jim Renkert, Sandra Estenson

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