Discoverer Mary says it best: "Juneau is a place full of unpredictable surprises. Baby bear cubs chasing each other, eagles soaring high above the trees, and gigantic whales breeching. Some of the most magnificent wildlife and landscapes exist here in addition to world-class halibut and salmon fishing. While it may take a bit of travel time to get to Juneau, you will leave with a priceless experience. No matter when you visit."
Juneau is stacked when it comes to natural splendor. Helicopter tours, seaplanes, and fishing vessels all cater to tourists who want to explore these natural delights, but the best way to marvel in Juneau's natural terrain is up close and in person.
Thankfully, over 130 miles of hiking trails surround the city, so you're never more than a few minutes away from adventure. Below we've pulled our top 7 hikes in Juneau, as recommended by our Discoverers.
Psst! Don't forget to check out our Juneau Edition for even more incredible discoveries!
Nugget Falls Trail
An overwhelming favorite among visitors is the walk from Mendenhall Glacier to Nugget Falls. If you're in the area already checking out the Glacier, just keep walking by the visitor's center and take this 0.8-mile long path to the beautiful Nugget Falls and Mendenhall Lake. It's not a difficult hike, nor is it very long. So it's perfect for families with young kids or tourists who just want a nice stroll.
West Glacier Trailhead - Ice Caves
Another hike near Mendenhall Glacier, this trail is for the more experienced hiker. The trail is 7 miles round-trip, and has a bit more elevation gain. But that means you get an even more spectacular view of the Mendenhall Glacier. If you're feeling daring, you can go even further and check out the Mendenhall ice caves. These are pretty difficult to access, with a trickier and sometimes unmarked trail, so be cautious. Also be careful entering the caves, as the shifting and melting ice can be risky. If you'd like to go this route, your best bet is to go with a guide who knows the area well.
Discoverer Tip: "Be sure to start the day early on this trail though. It's about seven miles round trip with some rocky terrain at the end of the trail. Once there, you have a splendid view of the Mendenhall Glacier after some elevation gain." -@the.wolf.wanderer
One of the few trails you can access from downtown, Mt. Roberts trail is also one of the hardest but most rewarding in the region. It's only 4.5 miles, but it goes straight up with an elevation gain of almost 4,000 feet! The mountain has other trails you can access, however, and there is a tram to the top if you want to skip the hike, but where's the fun in that? If you are huffing and puffing at the end, you can always take it back down. Also worth checking out while you're on the mountain is the loop that takes you to Father Brown's Cross.
Discoverer Tip: "From the city, take the Mt. Roberts Tramway up to the visitor center 1,800 ft. up on the mountain. Even if you are not planning on hiking, it is a great spot to visit. There is a restaurant, gift shop, nature center, all with spectacular views of the city and the surrounding landscapes. If you do want to hike, there are several trails that will take you further up the mountain. A popular destination is Father Brown’s Cross, which is only about half a mile from the visitor center. No matter how far up you go, you are guaranteed to have spectacular views. Keep in mind that even in early summer, there can still be a lot of snow up on the mountaintop, so use caution when going on these hikes." -@meghanogilvie
Dan Moller Trail
Located across the water from downtown on Douglas Island, the Dan Moller Trail is 3 miles long and is especially popular with cross country skiers in the winter. In the summer, it's great for hikers of all levels, and even features a cabin at the end with picturesque views.
Mt Juneau Trail
A 3-mile hike, the Mt. Juneau Trail goes straight up with an elevation gain of more than 1500ft. The trail is difficult and can be dangerous certain times of the year, so check trail conditions and stick to the marked path. At the top, however, you're rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of Downtown Juneau.
Discoverer Story: "By far the coolest thing I did in Juneau was to hike up Mount Juneau. I met a friend of a friend (small town) who offered to bring me on a hike. He was a tour guide in Juneau so I figured he would show me something good, and I was not disappointed. The first third of the hike was a routine
walk up a steep dirt path. We kept moving onward. Because it was early spring, we soon hit snow and the path became hard to find. I followed his lead as he kicked spots in the snow for me to step in. The further up we got, the more windy, chilly, slippery and snowy it became. Despite my worry that we wouldn’t make it, we finally reached summit, where you get to see a beautiful view of Juneau as well as an unfinished building buried in snow." -@beckys2324
Starting in downtown, Perseverance Trail encompasses the dramatic change from urban to wild over the course of this 3-mile, there-and-back hike. Take the turn off for a short hike to the top of thundering Ebner Falls, where you can have a nice picnic before returning to the main trail. Get gorgeous views and plenty of links to other trails to extend the fun.
Point Bridget Trail
This easy and well-maintained hike meanders through Bridget Point State Park. Pass though forests and meadows, keeping an eye out for bears fishing in the stream. It's a pretty flat hike, and great for kids, with cabins available to rent if you aren't ready to leave just yet.