Ice Cave Trail is a 5 mile out and back trail located near Juneau, AK that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from June until August. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
This was a very challenging, fun, scenic hike! We thought it would take about 5 hours to complete, but were able to finish in 3 hours (20 minute break at the glacier to look around and take pictures included) because we kept a very fast pace! The path has a nice warm-up for the first mile or so as you walk flat terrain through the rainforest. Then things get interesting... Once past the first mile, you are required to scramble up slippery rocks, climb stairs, and maneuver around some trees... sometimes using the assistance of a rope. The trail can be hard to follow at times so keep an eye out for markers. The glacier has receded quite a bit so it takes some careful sliding down loose gravel to get up close. Be weary of hidden Moulin and ridges on the ice! Unfortunately, we went on a rainy day so the trail was extra slick in some parts and muddy. Challenging but highly recommend for the awesome views and a chance to explore ice caves!
This hike is incredible! The trail begins on the west glacier trail. You can park in the lot by the skaters cabin. After the first cable incline there is a viewpoint. Turn there to find a trail that goes downhill. You follow this trail until it ends and then use cairns and ribbons to find your way to the glacier. There is one section where you have to scramble up large, slippery rocks. That part of the trail is really intense. The rest of the trail is pretty easy going. There is a section where a tree blocks the path because a beaver cut the tree down. Some of the cairns have been knocked over too, so you need to be alert. It took us five hours roundtrip. That includes stopping for lunch and geocaching. As always, make sure you bring lots of water and you're wearing proper hiking boots.
Probably the most fun hike of my life! It begins very even (for just about a mile), followed by some beautiful scenery. Lots of climbing, so the latter part of the hike is definitely not stroller-friendly. Perfect trail for the active hiker who likes a bit of adventure ;)
Def not easy but a great hike
This was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The ice cave that everyone has pictures of isn't there anymore, but there are still a lot of pretty mini ice caves. You will definitely need good trail shoes or boots. I'm a trail runner so I just had a good pair of trail running shoes and I was okay.
I just did the trail to ice caves last week. The ice cave is the most amazing thing that I have seen in my life! If you are able to hike 7 miles you should do this!!! It will be an experience that you will never forget.
The trail is said to be strenuous but I think its more moderate to strenuous. Perhaps it was the adrenaline running but as a moderately fit person, I felt like it was very doable. We did the trek in the rain which made the rocks and ground slippery but if you're careful enough you will be fine! The hardest part is probably the rock scrambling which is free hand rock climbing, but because the rock face had lots of spots to hold onto and you can lean on it to rest, it wasn't too hard and afterwards you feel like you can conquer anything. You also have to go down a few steepish granite rocks so make sure you've got shoes with good grips aka hiking shoes. DO NOT WEAR SNEAKERS!!
I went on a guided tour and I would recommend anybody who is not familiar with glacier walking and the trails to join a tour first. It is VERY hard to find the trail if you don't know the way. The trail is not obvious and only marked with some cairns (rock stacks) and pink ribbons in some parts. I am still not confident to be able to find my way if I did it again. The tour I went with is called Above and Beyond - tour guide was Connor who was a good guide. I think there may be others that run tours there - we got a good deal on Viator - $209pp but with 10% off coupon. We spent about an hour on glacier, did ice climbing, checked out holes, crevasses, moulins and for finale went inside the ice cave. Apparently the cave has been there for about 4-5 years in different forms (changing every year) and last year, a big hole formed at end of cave that you look up and see the sky from the bottom. SO AMAZING.
I worked on a glacier for 4 seasons--I LOVE ICE! This trail gives anyone in Juneau access to the terminus of the Mendenhall Glacier and a chance to see a spectacular ice cave while it lasts. There are two methods to access the ice cave: by trail or by boat. The trail is maintained to the sign (in photo) with a black marker arrow to the ice caves and after that the trail becomes a bit of work to find. It is grown over but at times there will be markers tied on trees and bushes so do your best to locate them. When the trail leaves the vegetation, there will be cairns to follow. Basically, head to the glacier and watch out for sliding on steep rock slopes. The other way is by boat--launch at Skater's cabin and paddle to the terminus. Mornings are usually calm but beware that a strong glacier wind will pick up by early afternoon. Once at the terminus there will be an ever changing trail to the ice cave. The glacier should be fairly ok to walk on depending on weather, the sunnier the better as rain will create a slicker surface. Crampons are very nice to have along! Access can be by the moraine as well but beware that this loose pile of rocks rests atop solid ice and is very unstable. Take some common sense with you and a little glacier knowledge and you will be rewarded with a luminescent, deep glacier blue ice cave beautifully chiseled by running water, wind and movement.