This world-famous Mendenhall Glacier, 13 miles northwest of Downtown Juneau, is part of the 1500 square mile Juneau Ice field that stretches Into Canada as far as Atlin British Columbia. For centuries, the glaciers have been grinding their ways down valleys creating debris fields and lakes in Alaska. Lately the trend has been in the opposite direction as the glaciers are now melting. Mendenhall Glacier is one of the most photographed attractions in Alaska because of the thousands of visitors that come every summer by Cruise ship, airplanes, state ferries, and private vehicles.
Opened In 1962 the Forest Service Visitor Center at the glacier features daily interpretive talks and information, video programs, nature walks and trail hikes. There is a nominal charge. Visitor center summer hours are 8am to 7:30pm daily. 907-789-0097. The video presentation is approximately 15 min. long and is an excellent demonstration of how the glacier came to be and what is happening now.
How to get to Mendenhall Glacier.
There are taxis that are available from downtown Juneau, The Airport, and Auke Bay ferry terminal. There is also an excellent public bus transportation system in the Juneau area. The cost is approximately 2 dollars and leaves the downtown transportation regularly during the summer. The drop-off point is approximately a 1.25 from the visitor center so there is some walking involved.
If you have a rental car, it’s an easy 15 minute drive from downtown Juneau. You should book early as there are limited numbers of rental cars available.
There are scheduled bus tours that leave from Downtown and take guests to Mendenhall Glacier throughout the day.
Hiking at Mendenhall Glacier:
Trail of the Glacier is approximately a 30 min. walk (1/2-mile) from the visitor center and is a self-guided nature trail. The trail is quite easy.
Moraine Ecology Trail (1 1/2 miles) is a nature trail that crosses salmon spawning stream and other glacial features. The best access is from Steep Creek trail which starts in the in the visitor center parking lot. Watch for signs that say ME. H
East Glacier Trail begins at the Mendenhall Visitor Center. It can be quite challenging so be sure to assess your fitness level before starting. Take water and a light jacket, as it is 3.5 miles long. Take the stairs behind the center and follow the trail to the overlook. Awesome views of the Glacier and Nugget Falls. It is about a two-hour hike. It is recommended you do this hike early as it can get busy later in the day.
Photo Point travels a short distance from the visitor center to the edge of the lake. It is an easy paved trail that has good views of the glacier and the lake.
Trail of Time is just over a mile long. It is accessed from the front of the visitor center. There are a number of interpretive signs along the way. It Is heavily used during the summer but features good views of a waterfall. The trail is also dog friendly.
Nugget Falls is one of my favorite trails near Mendenhall glacier. It is approximately 2 miles long, return, and easy to hike. Access from about halfway down the photo point trail. There are great views of Nugget Falls and the glacier.
For a tour of the Visitor Center, watch the video below from TravelTouristVideos