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West Glacier Trail

  

West Glacier Trail

The West Glacier Trail is 3.5 miles long. It begins at end of Skater's Cabin Road and ends at the junction of the Mt. McGinnis Route. The trail begins on the north side of the parking lot. Most of this walk is below the glacier trimline amid many willow, cottonwood, and alder trees. The trim line is a distinct change in vegetation type from mature forest to newly established vegetation. Below the line, young plant communities are becoming established after the glacier receded, exposing bare rock. In a few places, the trail skirts the Sitka Spruce/Western Hemlock forest which the glacier has not reached in recent times. The last section may be difficult to follow. It seems to end at a scenic overlook and then curves back towards the glacier. Be on the lookout for cairns (orderly piles of rock) that mark the route. The trail ends at the top of a rock outcrop overlooking Mendenhall Glacier. A primitive route continues to the summit of Mt. McGinnis. Hiking off the West Glacier Trail has resulted in 10 – 12 search and rescue efforts annually. Seventy-five percent of those rescue efforts have involved injuries. FOR YOUR SAFETY, REMAIN ON THE TRAIL. If you insist on hiking off the trail, follow these recommendations: • Return to the trail over the same route used to leave the trial to avoid getting lost in the thick brush. • Do not attempt to circumnavigate the rock peninsula back to the West Glacier Trail. The trip around the peninsula is over 2 miles long, covered in thick brush, and broken up by deep rock crevices. • Bring plenty of food and water. • Use sturdy foot wear. • Leave enough time to get back by dark or be prepared to spend the night. The trail is open for the following uses: Hiking, Mountain Biking.

GET THE APP

Leaving West Glacier Trail to access the glacier takes visitors over extremely rough and hazardous ground. It is not recommended, and requires back-country traveling experience, very good physical conditioning and several hours for the round-trip journey. Since we know some are going to try it, we developed an application to help guide our visitors back safely, using our Geographic Information System. It follows a series of rock cairns that were placed as safety markers to reduce the probability of getting lost. https://usfs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?appid=606b20759d184d74a3e7aed97d98d877

West Glacier Trail QR Scan

At a Glance

Reservations: No reservations are available for this area.
Open Season: 1/1
Usage: Heavy
Closest Towns: Juneau, AK
Water: No
Restroom: No
Operated By: Forest Service

General Information

Directions: From downtown Juneau, travel north on Egan Drive to Mendenhall Loop Road. Turn left to remain on Mendenhall Loop Road at the junction of the loop and Glacier Spur Road (which goes straight ahead). Continue to Montana Creek Road from the Mendenhall Loop Road and follow the signs to the campground. Go past the campground entrance and Skater's Cabin to the parking area at the end of the road. The West Glacier Trail departs from the north end of the parking area.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities


Bicycling

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Hiking

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Day Hiking

The West Glacier Trail is 3.5 miles long. It begins at end of Skater's Cabin Road and ends at the junction of the Mt. McGinnis Route. The trail begins on the north side of the parking lot. Most of this walk is below the glacier trimline amid many willow, cottonwood, and alder trees. The trim line is a distinct change in vegetation type from mature forest to newly established vegetation. Below the line, young plant communities are becoming established after the glacier receded, exposing bare rock. In a few places, the trail skirts the Sitka Spruce/Western Hemlock forest which the glacier has not reached in recent times. The last section may be difficult to follow. It seems to end at a scenic overlook and then curves back towards the glacier. Be on the lookout for cairns (orderly piles of rock) that mark the route. The trail ends at the top of a rock outcrop overlooking Mendenhall Glacier. A primitive route continues to the summit of Mt. McGinnis. Hiking off the West Glacier Trail has resulted in 10 – 12 search and rescue efforts annually. Seventy-five percent of those rescue efforts have involved injuries. FOR YOUR SAFETY, REMAIN ON THE TRAIL. If you insist on hiking off the trail, follow these recommendations: • Return to the trail over the same route used to leave the trial to avoid getting lost in the thick brush. • Do not attempt to circumnavigate the rock peninsula back to the West Glacier Trail. The trip around the peninsula is over 2 miles long, covered in thick brush, and broken up by deep rock crevices. • Bring plenty of food and water. • Use sturdy foot wear. • Leave enough time to get back by dark or be prepared to spend the night. The trail is open for the following uses: Hiking, Mountain Biking
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Areas & Activities

Location

 
  Area/Length : 
3.5 miles

  Latitude : 
58.4183239

  Longitude : 
-134.589981

 



https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tongass/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=78817&actid=50