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Hiking in Juneau


hooked-on-travel

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I'm looking for a solid half-day hike in Juneau. We did the east loop glacier trail last year and loved it. We have this year narrowed down to the west glacier trail or doing extensive wandering at the top of Mt. Roberts. Can anyone compare and contrast the two options? Recommend something different? From what I can gather there is a trail up Mt. Roberts beyond the treeline etc. Can anyone tell me much about it? Is this the one that goes by the picnic area and cross? We only got as far as the cross last year before we ran out of time.

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The trail up Mt. Roberts continues on past the cross if you have time or you can hike up Mt. Juneau, it out the road some, I'd ask one of the locals when you get there, almost everyone hikes in Juneau.

 

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West Glacier Trail

Moderate trail that follows the glacier's west side

Length - 6.8 miles

Time - 5 hours

Elevation gain - 1,300 feet

 

The West Glacier trailhead cannot be reached from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. Take Mendenhall Loop Road to Montana Creek Road and follow the signs to Mendenhall Campground.

 

[key information - glacier views, birding, 50-200 years forest growth]

 

 

Should be fine for you. icon_smile.gif

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We're thinking of either the East or West Glacier Trail. Hooked--you said that you loved the East trail. Can you tell me about it?

 

Since the West trailhead can't be reached from the visitor center, is there any easy way to get to it without a car?

 

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I have hiked the East loop several times. I like going up the switchback and then down the stairs. You do go up and up and up, so a moderate level of fitness is necessary- or allow extra time for stops- I sure needed them. icon_smile.gif You can take a cab to the West trail- but make arrangements for a return- carry a cell phone and have the cab's number?? Make sure you have service.

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luv_2cruise:

Follow the link http://www.juneau-guide.com/juneau-alaska-hiking.htm for a good overall description of trails in Juneau. I'm with BQ. Take the switchbacks first, stairs second. You'll know you're doing it right if you keep the lake in your view on the way up. The east loop kind of follows a ridge high above the lake toward the glacier. Every once in a while, the trees would open up and give a gorgeous view of the glacier/lake/scenery framed by greenery. There's a falls you can hike back to on the way up. Then when you get to the closest point to the glacier, you're up on a cliff with a view of glacier to the left and a big waterfall to the right. When the trail started heading back into the woods, we found a short spur that took us to a higher point to see the glacier and falls. There was a great sitting rock here, so we sat and ate the lunch/snack we had brought. A bird sat on the rail to join us. We felt like the place was there just for us. It was raining pretty bad when we started the journey, so the trail was pretty empty. We saw 6 other people (and two dogs) the whole time. It only rained for the first hour or so. We were under the tree canopy pretty quick, so we didn't notice much.

 

This year we'll have a car. (Going with a group of 6 makes a car at Rent-A-Wreck the same price as the shuttle.) The car is what makes the west glacier trail an option.

 

I think we've decided to do the west glacier trail as our big hike and if we have time left, then we'll at least go as far as the cross on Mt. Roberts. We'll be with people who didn't do the east trail with us last year. These are people who have hiked mountains before (Colorado), but not near glaciers and ice caves.

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Hooked:

Your description of the east loop sounds great. We're considering just taking a taxi to Mendenhall visitor center. If we go on a 3-5 hour hike, can we be reasonably assured that there might be taxis available to get back to the dock?

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Thank you Hooked for all the great hiking info. Based on your description of the East loop and the info in the link that you provided, we have decided to do that trail. We really appreciate the help.

 

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Thanks tinydancer,

Should I presume then, that there is a regular municipal bus stop at the visitors center (and at the docks)? I like the idea of not using a cruise-provided bus, tour, etc. Would you know how often it runs? The glacier is about 13 miles away, so I imagine they might not run all that often.

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I think better than the bus is the shuttle. It's $5 each way btwn dock and visitor's center and runs continuously. I think shuttle beats city bus b/c it goes directly back without stopping. However, if you wanted to stop somewhere else...

 

I don't know if cabs will be out there waiting for users. I don't remember seeing any. But at $5 (you can do it one-way), there's a good back-up plan.

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The shuttle sounds like a winner. Thanks for the info!

An interesting FYI: was talking to a friend from Alaska who mentioned that not many years ago, the visitors center was built at the foot of the glacier. The website shows it quite far now. Amazing the warming!

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