4 Best Hikes in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve Overview

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve is located in southeast Alaska just west of the state capital 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 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. 

Nearest Metro AreaJuneau, AK
Area Size3,284,500 acres
EstablishedDecember 2, 1980
Hiking Trails10 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Forest Trail
Sunset from the Glacier Bay Lodge
Sunset from the Glacier Bay Lodge, Photo by Matt Zimmerman

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′ elevation gain
  • Easy
Bartlett Lake Trail
Glacier Bay National Park, Bartlett River and Lake Trail, Photo by Pi3.124

Nearly a mile down Bartlett River Trail, this hike takes off northeast toward Bartlett Lake. The primitive trail is very secluded with the 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′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Bartlett River Trail
Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, Photo by Mark Byzewski

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′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Beach Trail
Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park. Alaska, Photo by Mark Byzewski

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
  • Easy

Featured Image: Magnificent view of tidewater glaciers, Photo by Güldem Üstün

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