Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve is located in southeast Alaska just west of the state capitol of Juneau. The park can only be reached by boat or plane as its only road connects to the small town of Gustavus. Glacier Bay protects 50 named glaciers, including 9 tidewater glaciers that terminate in the sea and can be viewed on a cruise. As with all of the national parks in Alaska, summer is the best time to visit as most services are closed in the winter and hiking is impossible. Boat tours and cruises are the easiest and possible best ways to explore this beautiful national park however there are several trails in the area near the park offices. Below are the 4 best day hikes in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. Official Website.
1. Forest Trail
Leisurely loop through the temperate rainforest and beach area of Bartlett Cove. There are several viewing platforms along the way that will allow you to take in the surroundings. Ranger led guides leave at 1:30 pm daily. The trailhead can be accessed next to the Glacier Bay Lodge and Visitor Center.
- 1.1 mile – Loop
- 100′ gain
Nearly a mile down Bartlett River Trail, this hike takes off northeast toward Bartlett Lake. The primitive trail is very secluded with reward of the pristine lakefront. The trailhead is off of Park Road but the lake can also be accessed from the Towers Trail at the park boundary.
- 9.6 miles – Out and back
- 350′ gain
This trail takes you through a dense forested area and eventually ends up near the mouth of Bartlett River. The trail and river are popular destinations for any anglers visiting the park as salmon are plentiful. The fish also attract other forms of wildlife including eagles, seals, and bears. The trailhead can be found at the parking area off of Park Road.
- 3.5 miles – Out and back
- 300′ gain
4. Beach Trail
The shoreline south of the Bartlett Cove docks stretches on for miles and makes for a decent hike or walk. Point Gustavus is located 6 miles away if you wish to make a full day out of it. The wildlife sightings on this trail are endless! The trailhead is located on the south side of the docks.
- No specific length
- No elevation gain