Tour Update: The Mendenhall Glacier is receding on a daily basis causing drastic changes to the surface of the glacier. Our site for trekking on the glacier with crampons has continued to get steeper and more challenging each summer. These changes, along with rising lake levels, have left us with very limited safe areas to explore on the ice. For this reason, it is not safe to walk on the glacier. This trip will spend time exploring the glacier up close and hiking around the edges of it safely from the bedrock. The edge of the glacier has some of the most stunning features you will find; this is where ice formations, tunnels, and tubes tend to form creating those beautiful blue colors. These features are never guaranteed but do form throughout the summer. Whether or not conditions present the opportunity to walk on the glacier in addition to hiking by trail through the Tongass National Forest, this entire journey is top-notch from start to finish.
Explore Mendenhall Glacier from a much closer perspective on the Mendenhall Glacier Trek Tour. This full-day adventure is not for everyone, but geared towards those looking for a challenge and ready to hike to get there. Gaining elevation from the trailhead, temperate rainforest eventually gives way to alpine terrain. Spend the next hour or so near the glacier, following your guide past deep blue melt streams, emerald pools and deep crevasses that can be seen from the glaciers edge. The scale of these flowing glaciers becomes evident as you zig-zag along in what may feel like a different world. A truly awe-inspiring trip for those ready for it.
Pick-up from the cruise docks and many Juneau hotels is included and from there a short ride over to Mendenhall Valley and the West Glacier Trailhead. Here it's time to gear up, and a backpack containing all your necessary glacier gear is provided for you (about 10-15 lbs.). Hit the trail, warming up on the first mile which is well maintained and relatively flat. It doesn't take long to shift gears - now you're in the Alaskan backcountry, and the cruise ship seems miles away. After the first mile, the trail gains elevation and the next 2.5 miles are characterized by uneven terrain, multiple steep pitches, rock scrambling, route finding and may include slippery bedrock. But the hard work pays off when the trail opens up to expose a glorious view of Mendenhall Glacier, which leads into the next part of this adventure.
Traverse across the last patch of bedrock, making your way over to the edge of the icefield. You'll spend the next part journey next to the ice, exploring the unique intricacies of this frozen expanse. If time permits, we may have an opportunity to explore nearby ice features; the resulting photos from this trip may seem photoshopped but these colors are real! Eventually, we'll make the return trip back to the trailhead and drop-off locations in Juneau.
If you're concerned with slowing down the group or if you have younger children, you may consider taking this as a private trip. Or, for less hiking, consider the Mendenhall Glacier Paddle & Trek.