A bear splashes through Steep Creek in this September 2018 photo. The non-elevated portions of the Steep Creek Trail will close beginning Friday, the U.S. Forest Service announced. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Non-elevated portion of Steep Creek Trail to close

Goes into effect Friday, July 16.

It’s that time of year again —the non-elevated portions of the Steep Creek Trail at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center will close starting Friday, July 16.

The annual closure minimizes human-bear interactions, allows bears access to their natural environments and enhances the viewing experience for guests on the elevated platforms, the U.S. Forest Service said in a news release announcing the closure.

Hikers and cyclists will see signs at trailheads alerting them to the closure when they enter the Dredge Lakes area, according to USFS, and the boundary will be clearly marked by yellow rope and signs.

The annual closure was first instituted 10 years ago, according to USFS, and it has “significantly improved bear viewing opportunities,” according to USFS.

While visitors are on the raised platforms, USFS recommends visitors maintain a calm demeanor and use slow movements, be courteous of others and notify staff when they see a bear.

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