Alaska trails offer superb opportunities
for hiking, biking and walking. The
scenery and opportunity to observe
wildlife are unparalleled. Great
mountains for steep hikes and alpine
views; hidden coves and lakes for
leisurely strolls; surreal contemplative
corners to watch wildlife and
Exploring the great
outdoors and adventure travel activities
continue daily despite an occasional
showers. Mountains with misty clouds
draped about their shoulders are
softened and magically beautiful. Over a
hundred trails exist nearby. Some of our
favorites are outlined here.
The City hosts guided
hikes and walks every Saturday and
Wednesday - call 907-586-0428 for this
weeks location. The USFS hosts
interpretive walks departing from the
Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center twice
daily in summer. Audubon Society hosts
regular bird watching walks 1-2x
week. Gastineau Guiding provides
guided hiking tours from easy to
challenging. Review and order guided tours and other excursions, if desired, at
our main order form.
River/Montana Creek Trail (2-3 hours: Easy)
of our favorite hikes! Begins
practically out our back door! Or,
if you’re on the road park at Brotherhood
Bridge (10 mile
Glacier Highway; perfect site for photos of
the glacier) and hike, bike, walk,
or jog this easy trail through the
forest and meadows.
Excellent cross country ski trail in
on pictures for larger view.)
Creek Trail 2-3
Hours; Difficulty Level: Easy to
Perseverance Trail is the former
road/trail taken by miners
working the Silverbow Basin Gold
mine. It is easy, picturesque,
with many an interesting site
and history. Read on: Juneau was
first founded by Joe Juneau and
Mr. Harris. They were looking
for gold and were taken to Gold
Creek (appropriately named) by a
local Native leader (who could
care less about the stuff). In
any event, Juneau (originally
known as Harrisburg) was founded
in or about 1880.
To get to Perseverance
trail, take Main Street to Sixth. Turn
right on Sixth and follow to East
Avenue. Turn left. East turns into Basin
Road. Take Basin Road to the end
(trailhead is marked). Various scenic
viewpoints begin within blocks as you
overlook the river valley. A little
further, you will have an opportunity to
picnic or relax above Ebner Falls.
Opposite the Ebner Falls
cutoff is the cut off for the Mt.
Juneau/Juneau Ridge Trail (very difficult, but
great!). Approximately one mile beyond
Ebner falls to the left is the Granite
Creek Trail: good salmon berries on the
hill, and a back of accessing
Mt. Juneau (as well as Mt. Olds, Clark's Peak and a series of other mountains and ridges. Bears are frequently seen on
the moraine flats at the end of the
Granite Creek Trail.
More recently, Juneau Trail Mix (a
local group of volunteers) has
established a new trail leading from
Perseverence to the Glory Hole. The Glory hole was created as miners
would blast under a dome of earth and
have it collapse, mine the ore, and then
blast yet deeper. The excavation is approximately 1/2
mile long and 1/3 mile wide and drops
straight down for perhaps 700-1000 feet.
Those who get dizzy at heights, beware!
(Approx. 45 min. Difficulty Level: Easy)
Wetlands is immediately adjacent to the
Airport, accessible off Ratcliffe Road.
The area overlooks the wetlands between
the mainland and Douglas Island and is a
bird watcher's paradise. Canadian Geese,
ducks, song birds and sea birds abound.
Some educational signs have been placed
on the trail relating to the birds,
wildlife and ecology of the area.
incidentally, is one of the old roadbeds
servicing the old dairy farm that used
to exist on the grounds of the airport.
That is also one of the reasons the
frontage road running alongside Egan
Drive is called Old Dairy Road.
East Glacier Trail
2-3 hours Difficulty: Moderate to
This is one of the all time
trail starts in back of the
Visitor's Center at the
Mendenhall Glacier. Climb the
stairs leading above the Center,
walk a few blocks and turn left.
Most of the trail is a gently
rising path along the bordering
hill of the Glacier Valley.
Towards the end there are a few
switchbacks. It is well
maintained. Great views along
the way of the valley and
Approximately 2/3 of
the way up is AJ Falls, a nice picnic
area. We have never had trouble drinking
the water at the falls. However, be
aware that Giardia is always a danger in
Juneau streams. The top of the trail overlooks
the Glacier and Nugget Falls. (By
the way: One can also readily hike to
the base of Nugget Falls (15 minutes)
from the Visitor's Center. Great Photo
ops!) This trail is one of
the few which loops back through
different scenery. Keep following the
trail after you reach the overlook over
Nugget Falls. To your left, you may be able to
catch glimpses of the reservoir and old
coffer dam built in the mining days. If
you want to scramble down the hill, you
will note a cable over the dam and
reservoir. This was used to transport
people and supplies over to housing.Or, follow the well
defined trail as it veers off to the
right and hike down the hill in the
quiet canopy of the rainforest. Mosses,
lichen, skunk cabbage, and mushrooms
abound. The trail ultimately exits with
the Nature Trail walk near the Visitor's
West Glacier Trail/Ice
3-5 hours Difficulty: Moderate to
Pick up the West
Glacier Trail at the end of Skater's
Cabin Road off Montana Creek Road. The
first part of the trail is a gentle walk
in the forest bordering Mendenhall lake.
Approximately a mile in, the trail
begins to climb. Several great lookout
points provide panoramic views of the
glacial carved valley, lake and glacier
Approximately 2 miles
in, the trail will cross a rocky area
and stream. A bit further and the
adventurous may climb up a knoll and
follow survey tapes and cairn markers
up Mt. McGinnis (later under
To access the ice
caves. At the first viewpoint
(that with the covered bench),
head down the small auxiliary trail closest to the main
trail. At points, the trail may
get a bit wet. There are some
fairly sheer areas to climb as
well. However, the ice caves and
close up of the glacier can make
up for the difficulty.
caves change monthly. It is possible to
climb aboard the Glacier (crampons, ice
ax and gloves a must!) and walk on top
of the glacier. However,
understand that any activities around
the glacier itself are extremely
hazardous and must be taken at your own
risk. Do not go into or too close to
the ice caves, since they are very
slippery, lead to no-one-knows-where,
and can collapse without warning. Do not
walk on the glacier unless you are aware
of things to watch and/or are with
someone familiar with glacier trekking.
In the past, the Mendenhall Glacier
normally receded approximately 70 feet per year.
Lately, it has been receding at up to 600 feet per year. Good pictures and descriptions of its
movement are available at the Forest
Service Visitor's cabin. Most of the
bedrock leading to the ice caves were
covered at the time we first moved to
Juneau in 1974. The pond at Pearson's
Pond was created by the Glacier in the
mid-1700's, as far as we can determine.
Our property backs on the terminal
Lake Trail: (4-5 hours round
trip. Difficulty Level: Easy to
Moderate). At approximately 25 mile Glacier Highway just
before the Herbert River, park immediately next to the gravel road on the right leading to
trailhead. Trail meanders by
Herbert River and through the
forest. Lake has a cabin
(reservations available through
the State DNR) and good cut
(Goat Mountain Trail) (Moderate
difficulty, 5 hours round trip by foot; 2.5 hours by bike)
Trail head is one of three at
approximately 25 mile
Glacier Highway just beyond the
Herbert River. The entire trail
is relatively flat with scenic
views along Herbert River. The
terrain and grounds gradually
change as you get closer to the
glacier. Tall forests become
alder and smaller vegetation.
Eventually you break into the
vast moraine left behind by the
rapidly receding glacier. Bears
or other wildlife are sometimes
seen on the moraine.
Note: the trail was recently upgrade and is now passable on bicycles!
Trail: (7 hours round trip.
Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate).
Just a bit beyond the 25 mile marker, on
the other side of the Eagle River. The
trail itself is a pain (lots of
roots; some boggy areas). At the end,
however, is a beautiful lake, glacier
and cabin (reservations available
through the State DNR).
Trail: The trail begins at Glacier
Highway mile 12.3. Sometimes muddy in
the warm season, it leads to the John Muir cabin (reservations requird) and great Nordic
skiing in winter. Trail starts on old
corduroy road that leads to first of
three muskeg meadows. Terrific views of Chilkat Mountains,
upper Mendenhall Glacier, Lynn Canal
Auke Lake Trail:
11.3 mile Glacier Highway. One mile or
three if you circumnavigate the lake,
this lovely and fairly easy woods walk
along the lake shore is home to tall
trees, beaver, otter, squirrels, fish,
waterfowl, and bird life.
Bridget State Park Trail:
Just before Echo Cove (near the
northerly end of Juneau's 50 miles of
highway) is the State's Bridget Point
State Park. A nicely maintained trail
leads through a variety of ecologies
(muskeg, forest, grassland) to three of
the State's cabins, and a very nice
overlook of Lynn Canal.
Juneau has an amazing number of fully
accessible mountains and ridges. This
site will concentrate on four or five of
the most popular. All take about 7-8 hours to climb and return at a moderate pace. Those interested in
further climbs may want to contact the Juneau Alpine Club. A variety of pictures of their various hikes are posted at the club's site.
These trails should
not be tried by the timid. Mt. Juneau,
Jumbo and McGinnis have various steep
areas. All require stamina and care.
Take lots of water, energy foods, and layered
clothing (since the top can be windy
and cold). Check the weather and bring rain gear if there is any chance of rain. Let someone know where you are going and when to expect you to return. A guide (or at least someone
familiar with the trails) is strongly
recommended. Views are spectacular and
worth the effort.
(Approx: 7-8 hours round trip;
Difficulty: Advanced and strenuous).
Access via Perseverance Trail (downtown
off Basin Road). Approximate elevation
gain is 3500 feet via switchback trails
with the final steep area near the the
top. Enjoy panoramic views of Juneau and
Gastineau Channel along the way with a
sweeping vista of the entire channel
from the Taku Inlet to Lynn Canal at the
You will typically
find snow patches at the top (great
for snow cones and replenishing water after a hot climb!) and
gently rolling hills along the ridge. To return via a
different route, one can follow the
ridge to Granite Creek Basin (be sure to bear to the left and go up the final ridge!)
which, in turn, connects to Perseverance Trail.
One can access Mt. Olds from the
Juneau Ridge. The truly brave can cross
over the Salmon Dam ridge to Observation
Peak and return via Cairn Peak and
Blackerby ridge, but a guide is strongly
recommended for that. Lots of steep
areas with loose material.
The mountain doesn’t involve any
technical climbing, just stamina and
perseverance. There are some tricky
parts in accessing Granite Creek from
the ridge if that is desired. Be sure to
talk to someone first in regard to the
route! Basic concept: just keep
following the ridge up, up, up and to
the left (even though the right may look
Jumbo (aka Mt. Bradley):
(Approx. 7-8 hours round trip;
Difficulty: Advanced and
strenuous). The trail head is
located off 5th Street in Douglas. It is the
highest mountain on the island
at 3500 ft. The trail is well
defined and in good shape. It
begins gradually then steepens
sharply. After climbing, the
forest breaks and then you are
in tundra rocks and in need of
perseverance to continue on to
the crowning views of Gastineau
Channel, Stephens Passage and
Icy Straits. Snow at the top for
refreshment. Sights from the top
well worth the burning legs!
(Approx. 8-9 hours round trip;
Difficulty: Advanced and strenuous).
Access at end of West Glacier Trail to
the left. Scramble up the exposed
granite areas to the top of the knoll.
Cut along the knoll toward the mountain
and locate the path leading into the
woods. From here the trail is well
defined. Be sure to note where and how
to catch the beginning of the path on
the way back down, since you may
otherwise miss it.
The path goes up,
across meadows and up again. There are a
few false summits, keep going, but stop
and enjoy the spectacular views at every
break. Above tree line, look for rock
cairns thoughtfully left as markers.
Unlike many of the accessible mountains
in the Juneau area, the top of McGinnis
is fairly small. One gets a sense of
real elevation and outstanding panoramic
views of the Mendenhall Valley.
Thunder Mountain (Heintzleman
Ridge): (Approx. 8-9 hours round
trip; Difficulty: Advanced and
strenuous). Popular access at
approximately 7 mile Old Glacier Highway
(just beyond State Highway Department).
Fairly lengthy, but beautiful climb that
passes through forest, meadows and
alpine country. Great views of the
Mendenhall Glacier. One can also access
Heintzleman Ridge via Thunder Mountain.
However, only do that with someone
familiar with the ridge since the access is quite steep and unprotected.
Roberts/Tram: (1-? hours,
depending. Difficulty: Moderate
to strenuous). One of the most
popular trips in Juneau. Take
the tram from South Franklin
Street (downtown). Food, gifts,
theatre at top, and start of
trail that gradually climbs to
Gastineau Peak, Mt. Roberts and
related ridges overlooking
Silverbow Basin (home of the
original major gold mines, and
large Glory Hole). Wildlife and
views abound. The first steeper
climb area after leaving the
tram building leads to a popular
cross/picnic area. Be sure to
glance at the valley as you
continue to climb. Not unusual
to see a bear! Bring binoculars,
camera (and water). Can keep
going and going!
Auke Recreation Area:
Turnoff at 15.7 mile Glacier Highway A
local favorite for beach walks and
barbeques. Trails through the spruce
forest, islands just offshore, resident
harbor porpoise, seabirds, and sea
lions; it’s lovely in any weather or
Boy Scout Beach:
Access 25 mile Glacier Highway, to the left just before Herbert River. Rich in
history, 1 ½ mile easy trail follows
Herbert River along remains of old
corduroy road (poles laid next to each
other perpendicular to trail to prevent
miring in the mud), then runs through
meadow and forested areas; further along you will
find spectacular views of the Chilkat
Range, Lynn Canal and Coastal Range.
Approx. 26 mile Glacier Highway. Scenic
and sandy and home to many eagles. A
great place for a picnic!
False Outer Point
& Bluff Trail:
At 11.4 mile North Douglas Highway, you’ll
find a trail head at the end of a large
parking space overlooking the water.
This trail will lead you gently down to
the beach where picnicking, beach
combing, and more trails await. Sea
lions, sea ducks, gulls and all manner
of intertidal beach life such as sea
stars, urchins, snails, limpets, chitons
and more can be found. Follow the paths
through the old forest or the beach at
low tide to the beaches on the west side
of False Outer Point.
Park: Cross the Douglas Bridge from
downtown Juneau and turn left. Follow
road to just beyond City of Douglas.
Great area for ball games, beachcombing
(former site of Treadwell: pottery
shards, tiles abound!), hanging on the
beach. Location of the new ice rink.
are several small beach coves
and viewpoints (Yankee Cove,
Sunshine Cove, Bridget Cove,
Echo Cove) stretched along miles
34.5 to the end of Glacier
Highway. Beautiful secluded
spots close to the road offer
pretty picnic sites and often
great whale watching. Nice
East Glacier Loop
Trail/Nugget Creek Falls are good
places to visit for falls-watching. The base of Nugget Creek Falls can be accessed from the Mendenhall Visitor's Center. Or simply drive south
of downtown along Thane Road for many
cascading falls and views of Gastineau
Ebner Falls, shortly after the trailhead to Perserverence Trail, provides a great
place to relax and enjoy the romance of
the falls. This is one of my favorite
short getaways for a short hike that
will transcend you to another place in
Salmon Creek Falls: At 4 mile Egan Drive to Hospital
Drive then left past Tlingit/Haida
Community Building and Salmon Creek Mini
Storage along the road that goes past
the defunct fish hatchery. The beautiful
lower falls on Salmon Creek is well
worth the 15 minutes walk.
3 mile Thane road. This is a very pretty
falls close to the road. Across the road
is a steep short trail to the beach.
Great place close to town for a beach
stroll and picnic.
Falls: Absolutely gorgeous!
Take kayak from Echo Cove (end
of road). Be sure to check tides
so that you are going through
the narrow mouth of Cove either
with the tide or at slack tide!
Approximately 1.5 hours of
paddling to Sawmill Cove. The
falls are most easily accessed
by a trail toward the mouth of
the cove (look for a small group
of trees on the landward side of
cove). Beware: during salmon
runs, many bear frequent the
Enjoy watching the fishing, yachting and
cruising activity and wonderful sunsets
at the many docks in Juneau, Auke Bay
and Douglas. Fisherman's Bend is a nice dock in the afternoon for eagle watching and pictures.