Juneau, Alaska, US
For a drive-through glacier, you know – the type of glacier where you can simply drive to, park, and gawk at, Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau was still impressive.
So when our Couchsurfing host told us of a trail that would take us TO the glacier itself (and fall in the crevasse if we choose to) with no guides, no nothing… we jumped at the chance.
There are trails starting from Mendenhall Glacier Visitor center, but they would only lead you to viewpoints (beautiful viewpoints nonetheless). The trail that our host was telling us about is called The West Glacier trail and the starting point is on the other side of the water. Across from where the visitor center is.
West Glacier Trail – (or Mendenhall Glacier hike)
Our host was kind enough to let us borrow his car. The trailhead starts at a parking lot for Mendenhall Lake (the lake that the glacier feeds into) which is located at the end of Skater’s Cabin Road.
The clearly marked trail is 3.4 miles long one-way and has an elevation gain of 1250 ft. It passes through the fern-covered ground of Tongass National Park and follows the west side of the lake closely affording us views of the icefield and the lake below.
And of the Mendenhall Glacier itself.
Each viewpoint awarded us with a better and closer look at the glacier.
Having never seen glacier that close before, we, of course, couldn’t stop gawking at it.
How blue… and how glacier-y it looks.
But the views from the trail were nothing compared to what awaits us at the end of the trail.
We were glacier virgins before, having never touched or seen a glacier up close…
The feeling to be walking about these gigantic chunks of ice is pretty hard to describe. We felt like kids all over again… touching the ice, being surprised at how cold it is (duh), and being amazed at the different hues of blues covering the glacier.
And because I’m not very good at descriptive words, I’m just going to say that it was a pretty darn cool glacier.
Mendenhall Glacier might not be the biggest or the most famous glacier known, but considering that it only took us 2.5 hours of hiking the West Glacier Trail to get super close and personal with it…
Mendenhall Glacier will always have a special place in our hearts.