Ice Cave Trail

MODERATE 99 reviews
#1 of 34 trails in

Ice Cave Trail is a 4.9 mile out and back trail located near Juneau, Alaska that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and trail running and is best used from June until August. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

4.9 miles
626 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly


trail running







Great hike! Done it a few times. Caves aren’t always there though, so a little disappointing if you do the whole hike and don’t get that reward.

6 months ago

Fantastic hike to the ice caves and on the glacier. We had a professional guide for our group age 7 to 69, guide was critical to being on the glacier safely

7 months ago

can't find it

7 months ago

Epic hike! Loved every minute. Lots of different landscapes and very challenging at points. Well maintained and easy to navigate. Follow the ribbons. June 2018.

7 months ago

It was one of our first hiking experiences in Alaska. We went with a local guide who went a bit faster than we had hoped for but the views and scenery were fabulous. It was a moderate hike with some more difficult areas than others. I’d recommend it for the more physically fit people. There was some climbing that we didn’t know about beforehand but it was well worth the blisters once it was said and done. Our fit bits ranged around 5 miles each way. Some more distance than others. Tons of steps to count.

8 months ago

My favorite trail in Juneau!

9 months ago

Awesome trail with access to Mendenhall glacier at the end.

10 months ago

Moderate++ in the rain for this 57 year old (who's in decent shape). Unmaintained is the key word here, but trust the ribbons - they will guide you. The views are fantastic!

Monday, September 11, 2017

It's almost gone! I was there a week ago and there was only about a 30 yard section still there. I heard from some locals that a portion has collapsed the week prior. I didn't realize this, but the cave is created by a river that enters the glacier from the side. The glacier has now almost retreated past that rivers path. We were able to walk in the mouth of the cave from both ends (where the river goes in and where it goes out. I wouldn't expect the glacier cave to last another month.

As far as the hike goes... our group laughed at some of the comments posted. The trail is actually marked quite well with neon ribbon tied to trees and bushes along the trail. If you stay on the trail anyone with half of an adventurous spirit and able to jog a half mile without stopping to die should be fine. No you do not need special gear. You can do it just fine in tennis shoes. We did it in the rain and loved it. No, you do not need a guide. My in-laws each paid $300 per person for a tour guide to take them by canoe/kayak across the lake to the glacier. We beat them to the glacier. They were pissed to have paid so much. Their guide didn't even let them go inside the cave due to the risk of it caving in. We paid $20 per person for a van to take our hiking group to the trailhead and back. I walked on the glacier for about 10 yards (slippery... duh) The hardest part is climbing up a steep rocky section where you will need to use your hands, but there are plenty of foot and hand holds. Be careful and you'll be fine.

Monday, August 28, 2017

I just came back from a hiking trip near Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska. I heard about the ice cave under Mendenhall Glacier for a while and wanted to visit it before it melts away. Juneau’s summer temperature is like late October in north FL (about 50-60), where I live. Another thing to note is that it rains constantly in Juneau, mostly sprinkles, sometimes pours. So I brought waterproof gears just in case. I began hiking from the West Glacier trail (trail head located on Skater’s Cabin’s road, a hand written board points to the direction of the trail). This trial is well maintained clear marked.

After about 1.2 miles, I got off West Glacier trail and turned to the West Glacier Spur trail. The next 1.3 miles was pretty challenging. This trail was very poorly marked, very muddy. I started following the neon ribbons tied by previous hikers from this point on. There were couples of creeks without bridges and some places were flooded. I tried to go through the creek with bear foot, so my shoes don’t get wet (above-ankle high; flooded area was Knee high. You could go around the flooded area but very muddy). The water came from the Glacier, it was COLD! After 2 miles, I encountered another challenge --- I needed to climb over an 5-story-tall rocky hill. The suffice of the hill was very steep (about 80-85 degrees) with loose rocks and was slippery from the rain. Thankfully I brought my crampons!

Once I climbed over the steep hill, I got the first close-up glimpse of the glacier. The glacier was powerful and majestic, lying in the arms of mountains like a silent giant. The next step was to some how get down to the bottom and go find the entrance of the ice cave. It didn’t look as steep as the other side but loose rocks were dangerous. The ice cave is unearthly beautiful! It is cold as a freezer with dripping ceiling. The glacier appeared to be blue, because the ice filtered all spectrum of light but blue.

I went back the same way I got here. A guide is not necessary, I went by myself and found the cave just fine. Keep your eye out for the ribbons. I did got lost couple of times because the rocky hill looks similar all the way around but got back on track quickly. At one point on top of the rocky hill, you may feel that there is no way down. Just follow the ribbon and inch close to the edge, then you will see some spots that you can step on. There is no "right way" to climb this hill; making sure stepping stones are not loose or slippery is very important. Total distance was 5 miles out and back; it took me 5.5 hours. Not a long hike but the climbing part can be dangerous. Crampons/micro-spikes and hiking poles are recommended. Water proof shoes or boots are must. The ice cave worth the effort tho! Great hike!!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Amazing hike. Getting to see something that is unique and changing daily.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

This hike was absolutely breathtaking. It started off in flat, moss covered forest. It transitioned to rock scrambling, a steep climbing section and finally loose rock. The views of the lake, Nugget Falls and Mendenhall Glacier are impossible to describe. While there is nothing too technically challenging, it's a solid hike and helps if you're in moderately decent physical shape.

Friday, August 18, 2017

It is one of my favorite hike. It is a fun hike with rock scramble, scree, and an ICE CAVE at the end for all your effort.

The most important thing is to find your point of entry to the ice cave trail that splits from west glacier trail. The first view point sign that you see, turn right and then make a left down a rocky terrain. There should be a "1940" glacier retreat sign in front of the trail. After defending that rocky terrain, that is where the fun starts.

The trail is well mark with ribbons and the glacier retreat year sign. The trail is well traveled so you can spot the trail. Coming back might be a little trail searching in the beginning. Since there is a good proportion of the trail is rock exposure, wear good traction boots and watch out for rain. A little rain is find but a down pour might have you slipping.

I hiked a lot and was able to carry my 2 year son on a carrier and use my hand once on a upclimb rock scramble. So it is doable for every hiker and even the beginner. Just take some time and don't get intimidated.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I'm an avid hiker and this trail is definitely not moderate. A few things to help y'all, where there's a sign and fork in the road, take the scenic route to the right. Don't try to hike this in tennis shoes at all. Be prepared to free climb a canyon, and be really really careful if it's suppose to rain or if it just rained. A lot of the trail was flooded out and when climbing down the canyon it started raining rendering small waterfalls and made it really difficult and slippery. There is no easy way to do this. On top of the canyon/ mountain follow the signs or stacked rocks. The red trail markers not always visible. Overall it's well worth the views. Absolutely gorgeous. But make sure you follow what I listed above and it will go smooth.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

I'm not a hiker, I'm a walker, so for me it was hard. We did get lost and had to back track to get on the trail. It's not well marked, the ice cave was amazing!! My husband is an avid hiker he rated it a 6 out of 10. Beauty is a 10+.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Most beautiful and unique place I have ever been in, and the sad part is that it just won't last for more then a year or two.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

First half of trail is easy. Gorgeous forest, stream, small waterfall. Can easily hike side trails a few hundred feet for views of Mendenhall lake, glacier and Nugget Falls.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Amazing trial! As others have said, it's difficult in places with rock scrambling and a poorly marked trial. Head right when you see the white laminated sign toward "viewpoint" for the best route down. Very worth it and you don't need a guide in my opinion.

Friday, July 21, 2017

on the harder side of moderate with one moderately hard, but short, climb. In July it was well marked with tape through the woods and rock cairns. Pretty deserted early in the morning, but use picked up midday. no ice cleats were needed this year to get to the caves.

heard loud cracking and rockfalls, so did not enter caves.

easier route is boating across lake to west side of glacier and easy uphill walk to caves

Friday, July 21, 2017

Not moderate, very challenging and brink rock scrambling skills but awesome accomplishment.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

A bit sketchy to follow, and tricky on the rocks, but worth it! I didn't find it very hard, but plan 5 hours to be safe. took us 4.5 with break at the caves for about 30.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Unforgettable! Don't be in Juneau and skip this. The coolest thing I've seen on a hike. Trail isn't too hard though sometimes you need to locate the markers in the rocky parts.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

AMAZING trail. We took a different route, but got the same result. The ice caves were an unforgettable experience. The bluest blue you'll ever see in shapes only Mother Nature could design. Get out here and hike it!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

If you want to get up close and personal with the glacier this is the hike to do. I have also hiked the
West Glacier and East Glacier trail which are beautiful but keep you at a distance from the glacier. If you are hiking this trail do not follow my map and make sure you get off the WGT at the view point split otherwise you will end up above the glacier and past the caves.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Incredible experience to explore the ice caves of the Mendenhall glacier!

Friday, February 17, 2017


Thursday, November 10, 2016

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!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

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.

Friday, July 08, 2016

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 ;)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Def not easy but a great hike

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