Many have walked the trails around the visitor center at the Mendenhall Glacier but few have actually walked on the ice. Located west of the glacier, the West Glacier trailhead can lead close enough to the glacier’s face to touch! Although, as exciting as it seems, walking on ice is not for everyone.
When considering making this trek you must consider your hiking and ice climbing experience. If you have little to none, it might be best to stay on the established trail however, you can continue on and the path will eventually open up to an amazing lookout over the glacier. These views are stunning and gives a cool perspective of the ice field crevasses. For those of you who wish to explore the glacier it is best to read up about the gear and equipment may need to prepare for your trip and get tips about what to expect from the US Forest Service. If you have little experience but would still like to make the trek there are guided tours here in Juneau offered by companies such as Alaska Shore Excursions or Above and Beyond.
To access the infamous ice caves the trail will break off and venture down a slippery bedrock to the edge of the glacier. As the massive ice melts and shifts the glacier exposes passageways into walls of pristine crystal blue. Walk through the caves and discover this natural occurring wonder. Feel a cool chill from underneath the glacier as you scoop a handful of refreshing water from a rushing stream or pool.
Please note that this trail is considered strenuous and can be dangerous depending on the weather or time of year you go. The glacier is constantly changing and as new ice caves form some collapse due to the glacier moving and melting.
All photos taken by Kelsey Jensen, view her website here.