Glacier Bay Hiking

Hiking a trail in Bartlett Cove

Bartlett Cove is the only developed area within Glacier Bay. The forests and shorelines offer great hiking opportunities. Several easy trails begin here. Spend some time, stretch your legs, and discover the wonders of YOUR park.

Bartlett Cove Trails Map

Bartlett Cove Trail Guide
Trails in Bartlett Cove are short and quite easy to follow. This map depicts the general routes of the Forest Trail, Tlingit Trail, Shoreline Trail, Bartlett River, and Bartlett Lake Trail.


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. To discover the stories of this amazing area, join a park ranger for a guided walk along this trail every afternoon.

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.


Tlingit Trail
Distance: 1/2 mile one way
An easy stroll along the forested shoreline edge in front of the Glacier Bay Lodge. Enjoy nice views of Bartlett Cove. See a traditional Tlingit canoe, gaze at a complete whale skeleton, learn abut common native plants, and experience Tlingit culture and art at the Huna Tribal House.


Explore The Shore:
Distance: Varies
The long stretch of shoreline south of the Bartlett Cove docks allows for a pleasant stroll. You could walk for miles. An extended hike to Point Gustavus (six miles one way) can be completed in a full day. Low tide reveals a myriad of intertidal life. (Please walk carefully!) It's a terrific place to see land, shore and sea birds. Listen for the breathing of humpback whales, feeding sea otters, and bald eagles. Flowers are profuse in mid-summer on the beach meadows. Let the magic of Glacier Bay surround you for an hour or even a full day.


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

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.

Watch your step

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. Rubber boots (SE Alaskan Sneakers) are popular here. Watch where you are stepping and take your time!


Be a Smart Hiker

Last updated: March 4, 2024

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Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
PO Box 140

Gustavus, AK 99826


907 697-2230

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