Mendenhall Glacier Trails
The Mendenhall area is laced with trails, including a couple of paved interpretive paths that swarm with visitors all summer. The relatively easy East Glacier Loop Trail (3.5 miles) also begins near the center and provides good views of the glacier. A more challenging hike splits off from this trail and follows Nugget Creek uphill to an Adirondack shelter. Vegetation along the East Glacier Trail consists of brush and trees established since the glacier’s recent retreat, while trees along the Nugget Creek Trail are much older.
My favorite Mendenhall trail is the West Glacier Trail (7 miles round-trip), which begins from the end of Montana Creek Road, just beyond the Mendenhall Lake Campground; there are incredible views of the glacier and icefalls en route. Experienced ice-climbers use the path to access the glacier itself.
Finally, for the really ambitious, there’s a primitive route up 3,228-foot Mt. McGinnis from the end of the West Glacier Trail, an additional four miles (6 hours) round-trip. This trail is generally covered with snow until late summer, but offers panoramic vistas of the entire Juneau area—on clear days.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition