With more than 250 miles of trails, many within minutes of downtown, Juneau is the place to literally "take a hike." Trails range from being fairly flat and wide and accessible by wheelchairs and strollers to strenuous uphill paths for serious hikers. Although the weather can be a challenge, the trails around Juneau provide a window into the rugged rain forests in Southeast Alaska.
Perseverance Trail: This popular route heads off into the valleys that produced Juneau's gold, and it's the launch pad for other trails. In downtown, take Gold Street to Basin Road. The three-mile trail begins at the end of Basin Road. Hikers can branch off to Granite Creek or take one of two routes to Mount Juneau. The 12-mile loop of the Mount Juneau ridge trail, which reaches heights of more than 3,000 feet, is strenuous and can be risky if the weather closes in. Highlights in this area include old mining ruins, wildflowers and views of Ebner Falls. The right side of the trail is steep. Perseverance Trail, however, is considered easy. Round-trip: three to four hours.
Granite Creek Trail: Beginning on Perseverance Trail, the Granite Creek trailhead is to the left about two miles from the start of Perseverance Trail and reaches an elevation of about 1,200 feet. Attractions include wildflowers, alpine lakes and waterfalls. The 3.5-mile one-way trail is more difficult. Round-trip: three to four hours.
Airport Dike Trail: Located in Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge. Features: Wheelchair-accessible; close to the airport; opportunities for watching resident birds and nesting waterfowl. Trail uses include hiking, dog walking, biking and jogging. Zero-elevation gain and excellent maintenance make this 1.2-mile, one-way trail an easy hike. Round-trip: one to two hours.
Visitor Center: Several trails are accessible from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. New wheelchair-accessible elevated trails off the parking lots make wildlife watching even easier. The East Glacier Trail, a 3.5 mile loop with an elevation gain of 400 feet, takes two to three hours round-trip. The West Glacier Trail, 3.4 miles one-way with an elevation gain of 1,300 feet, can be a five- to six-hour round trip. Shorter jaunts include a 1.5-mile Moraine Ecology Trail loop, the 5-minute, 0.3-mile Photo Point trail, and the new Steep Creek salmon viewing trail. The latter two trails are wheelchair accessible.
Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei: A wheelchair-accessible trail that follows the Mendenhall River greenbelt area, starting at Brotherhood Bridge off Glacier Highway. The name is Tlingit for "going back clearwater trail." Expect a lot of traffic, including some bikes and horses, on this zero-elevation-gain hike. The trail features access to fishing holes in Montana Creek, vivid wildflowers including Siberian Irises, and scenic overlooks.
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