As Memorial Day weekend brings us the unofficial beginning of summer, how will you spend the long weekend?
Through considering publicly available data and consultation with locals who make heavy use of the trails, Juneau Empire staff developed a list of Juneau’s most-loved trails. ]
The list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, and it isn’t an exact science. It draws from a recent City and Borough of Juneau survey alongside reviews from trail review website and application AllTrails as well as interviews with some people involved in maintaing or walking the Juneau area’s fifty-plus named trails.
5. Treadwell Ditch Trail
Last on our list but far from least, the Treadwell Ditch Trail clocks in at 14 miles according to the U.S. Forest Service. Stretching from Blueberry Hill in Douglas northward before looping back in on itself and ending near Eaglecrest, it’s a long walk in the woods with many trails branching off.
Lauren Verrelli, recreation and public services manager for Juneau parks and recreation, called the Treadwell Ditch Trail a fan favorite in an interview.
4. West Glacier Trail
It’s wild, it’s weird, it’s wonderful: West Glacier Trail. Beloved of both avid outdoors recreationists and Capital City Fire/Rescue when it’s obliged to occasionally rescue one of those hikers, West Glacier also offers the quickest route to the ice caves of the Mendenhall Glacier.
West Glacier is also AllTrails’ top-reviewed trail in Juneau, with more than 200 reviews on the site.
The ice caves and by extension West Glacier are local favorites, according to Trail Mix Inc. executive director Ryan O’Shaughnessy. The initial length of West Glacier’s four-mile span can be quite muddy. The route to oft-reviewed Mount McGinnis is a spur off of West Glacier as well.
“I think the ice caves are certainly a unique site that we can visit in Juneau,” O’Shaughnessy said. “I think they’re also a little bit seasonally unstable.”
3. Airport Dike Trail
Best beloved of bird-watchers in both the avian and aircraft sense, the Airport Dike Trail is a low-impact stroll through the serene swampiness of the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge.
The site is one of the most-visited birdwatching sites in Juneau, according to the Audubon Society, with about 230 species reported.
It’s also a fabulous place to walk dogs, and an easy walk, said Deborah Rudis, a retired wildlife biologist, in an interview.
2. Outer Point Loop Trail
Located just shy of Where the Sidewalk Ends in North Douglas, Outer Point Trail is an easy jaunt and a worthy view. It’s an easy walk for those not looking for a life-or-death struggle as a component of their nature walk, O’Shaughnessy said.
“It’s about a mile and a half long and it crosses through all different kinds of terrains,” O’Shaughnessy said. “It’s very flat also.”
Trail Mix partnered with a number of local organizations to improve accessibility recently, O’Shaughnessy said. They’ve also got a number of improvements to deal with nature’s hydropower specialists.
“There’s been a lot of beaver activity out there over the last couple of years,” O’Shaughnessy said. “We’ve been trying to elevate the trail and build some boardwalks to compensate for beaver flooding.”
1. Perseverance Trail
You know it, you love: according to both a City and Borough of Juneau survey and AllTrails data, Perseverance Trail is one of the most-travelled trails in town.
Running east from Basin Road, Perseverance is named after the gold mine that used to run in the hollows east of downtown Juneau. It’s easily accessible and a good walk.
“Perseverance has a lot of ups and downs, but it really gives you a feel for what it’s like to be in the mountains,” Rudis said.
It’s also the root for a number of other trails.
“We get lots of communication about Perseverance Trail,” Verrelli said. “It’s one of the most used ones since it connects to the four trails that spur off that trail.”
While those five trails stood out when considering reviews, popularity and input from local aficionados, they weren’t the only trails to be mentioned as among Juneau’s best.
Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei (Brotherhood Bridge) Trail and Horse Tram Trail are popular trails for those easing into things.
O’Shaughnessy called the Point Bishop Trail his favorite: a muddy, rooty walk that needs a little love, but nevertheless has a nice long walk with good beach views. He also suggested the Lena Point Trail as an underrated gem for its view of the cold ocean.
“Not that many people hike on it and it’s one of the most scenic overlooks of the Gastineau Channel and the Lynn Canal,” O’Shaughnessy said. “It’s in town and we’re going to be doing a lot of work to get rid of the muddy sections.”
Rudis said one of her favorites was the Spaulding Meadows Trail.
“It’s a great ski in the winter, there’s a lot of board walking,” Rudis said. “It’s well maintained and repaired by Trail Mix.”
Mount Juneau also offers a brisk trot with a “high” payoff, O’Shaughnessy said.
“Mount Juneau is great. It’s a steep trail with a lot of switchbacks,” O’Shaughnessy said. “You can summit Mount Juneau in a relatively short period of time. The route is not maintained and can be hazardous in adverse conditions.”