Glacial Adventure

Trail Review of West Glacier Trail

By TRYSTIN LUHR Ad Manager, UAS Whalesong

Imagine traversing a pseudo-alien landscape devoid of life and scoured with frost, ice and dry stone. That is the finale of the awe-striking West Glacier Trail: A trail that will take you through thick wet forests, rolling craggy hills, and climaxing at the barren windswept glacier.

The trail can be accessed from Montana Creek Road located on Mendenhall Loop Road.  The drive to the trail is beautiful.  Glacial waters flow next to the road as the residential area blends into the trees.  Once at the parking area, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to the trailhead.  

The trail is just under four miles (6.4 km) and increasing every year.  Global warming erodes some of the glacier each year causing it to recede.  The hike to Mendenhall Glacier is rated moderate by AllTrails.com and has a few hiccups.

 Small creeks, game trails and short rock-climbs break up the overall straight forward path.

West Glacier is by far one of my favorite Juneau hikes.  The last trip took about two hours and was absolutely breathtaking.  Sun beamed through the trees and bathed me in warmth for the first leg of my journey.   When the glacier was in full view, cold winds met with hot sun rays and refreshed my tired lungs and aching legs. 

 The return trip took only an hour and a half. I must have resembled a mountain goat, hopping from one rock to another on the climb down. I was fortunate to experience this adventure with a cohort of amazing friends.  

Students at the top of West Glacier Trail
Photo provided by Trystin Luhr

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