Hiking a Trail of Blue Ice: The Mendenhall Glacier
Alaska › Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area
Added by William Woodward
This is Alaska in all it's beautyMultiple trails varying in length and degrees of difficultyPicturesque blue ice & surrounding mountainsExperience the magnitude of the forces that shaped many of our mountains and valleysDuration: Winter, 3-4 hours. Summer, 5-8 hours. Includes time for exploring
The Mendenhall Glacier, formerly known as Sitaantaagu ("the Glacier Behind the Town"), is a 12 mile long glacier about 12 miles outside Alaska’s capital Juneau. A quick drive from downtown Juneau to the ‘trailhead’ parking lot finds you overlooking the nearly half a mile wide face of the glacier. I say ‘trailhead’, as the trail across the lake only exists in the winter months when the lake is frozen enough to cross on foot or ski.
The past two years the caves have mainly been found along the far west side of the glacier, where it meets the base of Mt. McGunnis. As glaciers are constantly shifting, the caves can never be completely mapped, but that leads to the adventure.
A popular day hike for the locals, expect to see others out enjoying the frozen lake in snowshoes, cross country and nordic skis, as well as on foot. Glacier travel should always be done with care, even when following a well defined trail. Slick conditions on the ice may call for crampons, and it’s always best to travel with a partner. Use caution, and have fun exploring the land of the bluest ice.Frozen Trails:
- 3 mile out and back hike/cross country ski/snowshoe across the frozen Mendenhall Lake, culminating at extensive ice caves for some mild spelunking
- Duration: Winter, 3-4 hours.
- 8 miles and 2000 vertical feet cumulative elevation change offers a challenging yet rewarding approach to the glacier
- Duration: Summer, 5-8 hours. Includes time for exploring.
- Day Pack
- Camera Pack
- Hiking Boots
- Extra Layers
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Hiking, Photography, Skiing, Snowshoeing
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
I currently live in the Valley and whenever it's a sunny day you can expect many to be here. Even better in the winter.
Ice Cave Collapse
These caves were a sight to see. Unfortunately however they are much less extensive now due to a cave collapse in July of 2014.
More Adventures Nearby
Camp at Boy Scout Beach in Juneau
Alaska / Boy Scout Beach Parking
Far from where the tourists venture, this is an incredible hang out and camping spot in Juneau. The trailhead is at the 25 mile marker on Glacier Hwy.
Summit Harp Mountain in Chugach State Park
Alaska / Harp Mountain Trailhead
Starting from the South Eagle River valley east of Anchorage, trudge 2650 ft. up to the summit of Harp Mountain for unbeatable views of the Chugach and the Knik arm. Park at the end of Hiland Rd.