• Sunset view of Glacier Bay and the surrounding Fairweather Mountains.

    Glacier Bay

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Hiking

hiker stopping for rest

You've probably done a fair bit of traveling to get here and may have a hankering to stretch your legs. There are only four maintained trails in Glacier Bay National Park and these are located at Bartlett Cove. All offer relatively easy walking

Bartlett Cove Trail Guide
Map for the Forest Loop, Bartlett River, Bartlett Lake

Forest Trail: Distance: 1 mile loop/Time: 30 min.-1.5 hours. This loop trail will take you through both the temperate rainforest and the beach environments of Bartlett Cove. Begin your walk either in front of the Lodge (just off the parking lot) or south of the boat ramp between the docks. The trail surface varies between dirt, gravel and boardwalk. Two benches and viewing platforms along the way beg you to pause and take in the sights and sounds of the spruce/hemlock forest. Rangers lead guided walks along this trail every afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Meet near the lodge front desk.

Bartlett River Trail: Distance: 4 miles round-trip/Time: 4-5 hours. This trail meanders along an intertidal lagoon and through the spruce/hemlock forest before emerging and ending at the Bartlett River estuary. Watch for coyotes, moose, bear and river otter along the beach. Ducks, geese and other water birds concentrate in the intertidal area during migrations and molting. Salmon run up the river in the latter part of the summer, which attracts hungry harbor seals.

Bartlett Lake Trail: Distance: 8 miles round-trip/Time: 7-8 hours. Begin walking on the Bartlett River Trail. In about ¼ of a mile down the trail at a signpost, the lake trail will branch off and begin to climb the moraine. This trail is less maintained than the other trails so use caution to not lose the route. The chatter of red squirrels will accompany you as you wind your way over and around moss-covered boulders and lichen-covered trees before reaching the shores of Bartlett Lake. During this full-day journey, you may be richly rewarded in solitude and the perhaps even the call of loons. Bring water, lunch and raingear.

 

 

Beach Trail: Distance: 1 mile Time: 30 minutes-1 hour. The long stretch of shoreline south of the docks allows for a pleasant stroll. Low tide reveals a myriad of intertidal life. (Please walk carefully!) It's a terrific place to see land, shore and sea birds. Ask a park ranger for a free tide schedule.

 
hikers taking rest in backcountry

Wilderness Hiking

There are no maintained trails in park wilderness, but beaches, recently deglaciated areas, and alpine meadows offer excellent hiking.

An extended shoreline hike from the Bartlett Cove dock along the shore to Point Gustavus (six miles one way) can be completed in a day. The intertidal strip is a natural trail, for wildlife and people. Watch for song birds on the forest's edge and water birds off-shore. Flowers are profuse in mid summer on the beach meadows. At low tide, the lower beach is worth a look for marine life. Ask a park ranger for a tide schedule.

Be prepared to tangle with the alder. Sitka alder is a successional plant that grows in a mass along beach and stream edges, avalanche chutes and up mountain slopes. Hikers have been known to lose their minds attempting to hike through alder.

 
hiker on outercoast

Gear for Hikes and Walks

  • Water
  • Sturdy, water-repellent footwear
  • Raincoat and hat
  • Insect repellent
  • Binoculars
  • Camera, fast film, extra photo storage and tripod

Be a Smart Hiker

 
Resting backpacker enjoys wilderness solitude

A Slip of the Foot

Due to the amount of moisture here in Glacier Bay, walking can be tricky. Wet docks, wooden walkways, logs, rocks and tree roots can be very slippery and create tripping hazards. Trails are often muddy and slick. To minimize risk, wear sturdy shoes with good traction and use handrails wherever available. Watch where you are stepping and take your time!

Did You Know?

Alaska is Huge

Alaska’s land area is 570,374 square miles or about 365 million acres. Largest state in the Union: 1/5th of the size of the Lower 48. Alaska is larger than the three next largest states combined.