West Glacier Trail

MODERATE 69 reviews
#2 of 27 trails in

West Glacier Trail is a 6.6 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Juneau, Alaska that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
6.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,381 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

rocky

snow

hiking
1 hour ago

Epic. The hike was perfect, brought my dog... she’s pretty worn out from it but she loved every minute of it out there. Being on the Glacier was something else. I highly recommend this hike.

hiking
5 days ago

We came in on a cruise. You can take the city bus and get off at the stop after the visitors center. Than walk a mile down the road past the camp ground to the trail head. The hike is amazing. Climbing down the the rock face at the end was a little daunting. But wow getting to set foot on the glacier with no one around was an unbelievable experience. You need to be very confident in your scrambling skills to do the final climb.

hiking
15 days ago

Thought this would be easy at first since .5 miles is smooth gravel with wide paths but then it slowly got more difficult after the trail split. Took the “View Point” trail which turned the man made path into nature made. The path took you up and over tree limbs, steep rock hills and then eventually into climbing up cliffs until you see the glacier. We decided to keep going until we climbed onto the glacier and got a sample of it’s water. I would highly recommend taking a bottle or cup with you to try the water and make sure to wear really good boots or you can easier slip while climbing and hiking this trail. This trail gives you a great view of Nugget Falls, glacier caves and surrounding mountains. Bring warm clothes to change into once you get to the glacier and bring a snack to get you back home.

1 month ago

Great hike!! Around 4 hrs round trip. Trail is easy at beginning then gets harder around the end. Follow the ribbons!! At the end it gets very unstable on the rocks so would advise hiking boots. The view is worth it at the end

hiking
1 month ago

This hike was awesome! Definitely gets more difficult towards the end as you get near the glacier. We stopped about 200 ft short of the glacier because the incline and loose rocks got a little sketchy. The trail head is easily accessible near the bathrooms (also nice) at the Mendenhall Lake Campsite (i.e. other side of the lake from the visitor center). The markers (yellow and pink ribbons) are INCREDIBLY helpful and located nearby most of the confusing spots - if you go in a direction, and don't see a market for a few minuets, you're probably going the wrong way. Also, when you see the climbing rope, it is only to get you from one rock to another - you are not intended to climb up it! Look for the little pink ribbon to your right and head that way instead. Awesome trail, would highly recommend it for people looking for a good workout.

hiking
1 month ago

EDIT: We did not loop when we came back. I got lost the last time with multiple unmarked trails, so this time I did a down and back. You can easily get lost if you don’t follow the ribbons. So I strongly advise you to do so, or go with someone very familiar with the trail.

Pretty easy/moderate the first couple miles. Once you hit the rock face with the tied rope (yes use that rope to climb up over) it’ll start to get more difficult weaving through the trail with more mud, brush, as well as incline and decline. Awesome view at the top! Pano worthy. Be sure to follow the ribbons to get to and from the glacier and bring a windbreaker because once we got over the rocks and began our decent (rocks are pretty loose) it was crazy windy. We found a cave on the other side of the little waterfall, but realized you have to go up and around it to get to the inside. So we went down towards the water instead and went on top of the glacier that way. I hiked this trail with Nike running shoes a few years ago which was doable, but I broke in my first pair of hiking boots today and I highly recommend hiking boots to keep your feet dry and less likely to acquire an ankle injury or slip. Also BRING BUG SPRAY!! Happy Hiking! (: ps. They have nice bathrooms at the parking lot.

3 months ago

Great views on the maintained trail. We hit a dead end. Not marked well for the loop. We then took the less-traveled and unmaintained trail to the ice caves. Much more strenuous hike! Trust the ribbons to guide you.

6 months ago

Hiked this trail in August 2017. Just being in Alaska with boots on the ground soaking it all in is enough for me. What an amazing place. Great hike!

hiking
10 months ago

This is a great hike! Make sure you bring good hiking boots because the paths get really rocky and there is some climbing involved. It was a rainy day, so the climbing was challenging because it got slippery in some areas. I'm from Florida, so this definetely felt like a hard hike for me! But well worth every ounce of effort becase the views were absolutely breathtaking.

On our way there, other visitors told us that a piece of the cave collapsed and we saw a chunk of the glacier fall into the water ourselves :( this hike is a must do!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

fantastic hike! great views of the glacier that are better than the visitors center imho. I prefer to take the cairn trail, which has the ice extent markers - about half way through to the ice on the trail, you'll see the an ice extent marker on your right and then another small trail that'll take you over the rocks and right down to the foot of the glacier. I recommend this route if you're trying to get to the foot and ice caves.

hiking
Friday, August 11, 2017

Great day hike! Beautiful up close views of the Mendenhall glacier and ice caves. Only downside is there can be a lot of hikers up there particularly on a nice day. Bring an extra layer or two as well - its colder than you think, especially if the wind picks up.

hiking
Saturday, December 03, 2016

Explored this trail on 21 November 2016. There was a lot of ice, especially on the steeper faces but most had the cable guards to assist in climbing. We got a late start around 9:00 and headed back at 12:00 when we reached the last tall peak before the descent to the caves. It's worth a trip.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

October 22, 2016. Hiked this with 2 workmates. We started late, 2:45pm, and with sunset at about 5:30, we kept an eye on our time. We stopped a few times for pictures, and at about the 2 mile mark, got to a great observation point. We took more pictures and decided to turn around to be sure to have daylight for some of the trickier stone steps. Delightful woods, creeks, bridges and of course the view of the Glacier and lake. We covered about 4 miles in 2 hours.

hiking
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The hike is OK, the views also OK, but neither were what I hoped for. Frankly, the views of the glacier are far better from the visitors center on the east side, even with the crowds. We had much better scenery and more challenging hike elsewhere on our trip in AK.

hiking
Monday, September 05, 2016

Easy to follow trail with great views. Very neat to see the glacier from above and off to the side.

hiking
Sunday, August 07, 2016

Impressive views! It was beautiful... The last mile was a bit harder, but totally worth it! We did this hike as a family with my 11 and 13 year old and took us 5 hours to go in and out.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Hard not to give this trail 5 stars, but compared to the many other trails I completed while in AK I have to make a distinction somewhere. But I feel like any 4 star trail in AK would be a 5 in most other states. I followed this trail all the way out to Mendenhall Glacier itself and explored the mouths of a few of the ice caves. To do that you have to do some scrambling over the bare rock the receding glacier has left in its wake. THAT means following cairns other hikers have erected and paying attention to landmarks in the distance because it would be very easy to get disoriented. In fact on the way out, my group saw another headed over a ridge and yelled to them. We led them out to the main trail and they tipped us! So...we bought donuts.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Great hike, outstanding view of the glacier. There was a point where we had to make a decision to go left or right toward ice cave. We went to the right and the trail was much more technical and not nearly as well marked.. we had to follow trail markers in the trees. It was off the line of the indicated Alltrails trail so it was confusing. It seems like the trail has been altered since the Alltrails trail line was drawn.

hiking
Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The hike wasn't bad, and you get a FANTASTIC view of the glacier. This was a wonderful experience while visiting Alaska. For a better view, many will kayak in the lake up to the glacier, which I'll definitely be doing if I'm back!

hiking
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Awesome view of Mendenhall glacier.

hiking
Monday, August 13, 2012

One of my favorites! The trail is easy going and you can bike the first third if you want.

At the very end you can check out the glacial ice!

Just be aware, towards the end the trail splits- left up the mountain goes up West trail towards McGinnis, the downhill to the right leads to the glacier.

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