Mendenhall Glacier Trek

Trip Details

2018 Cost: $229 per person (plus 5% local sales tax)
Min of 2 required

Trip Duration: Approximately 8 hours roundtrip

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What to Expect

Highlights: Hiking, glacier trekking, ice caves and other glacier features (if safe and accessible)

Areas you can cross off your bucket list are:
Mendenhall Glacier, Glacier Trekking, Hiking Through a Temperate Rain Forest, Visiting Ice Caves (not guaranteed – depends on the safety of cave access and group pace)

This is our most popular trek!

Big Seracs and Crevasses

Walk through an ecological timeline to get to the mighty Mendenhall where you will be introduced to glacier trekking and the natural history of the area!    The trip begins with a drive from your pick up point to the Mendenhall Valley where the West Glacier Trailhead is located.  At the trailhead you will be outfitted with a backpack that includes all of the necessary glacier gear, rain gear, and food and water.  Afterwards you will embark on a three and a half mile trail hike through the temperate rainforest along Mendenhall Lake.  The first mile of the trail is well maintained and relatively flat with the exception of a short uphill switchback section while the second two and a half miles is on an unmaintained strenuous trail.  This strenuous trail is uneven and includes areas of mud, slippery bedrock, loose gravel, rock scrambling, and multiple short, steep up and downhill sections.  Upon reaching the top of the most difficult section of the trail, the rock scramble, all of the effort you’ve invested instantly pays off as the Mendenhall Glacier and the surrounding peaks come into full view.  From this point you will breathe in the scenery with every step as you make your way down an open slope of bedrock to the edge of the ice.

Amazing landscapes you must see to believe!

Once you reach the glacier, your guide will help you put on your glacier gear and locate the safest entrance to get on the ice.  Following a safety briefing the group will spend approximately 1 hour on the ice (dependent on group’s hiking pace) exploring accessible features such as crevasses, ice caves, moulins, melt water streams, pools and more. After glacier play time is over you will repack your backpack and head back to the trailhead. Make sure you save energy for the hike back! The return hike might be on the same path or a new path, either way, the return hike is just as challenging as the hike to the glacier. 

We did the  Glacier Trek and absolutely loved it. Our hiking guide was a true professional and was extremely helpful and informative.  The hike through the forest was refreshing and challenging, but wait until you get to the glacier. The views are incredible and ice-trekking on the glacier is a great experience. 

-Jim V. Tripadvisor review 9/5/13

    Private Trip Option     

Are you on a large family vacation and want to have a fun family adventure on the ice?  Worried about slowing down the rest of the group?  If so, then our Private Mendenhall Glacier Trek is just the right trip for you. Booking a private trip allows us the flexibility to cater to your group’s needs and desires.  A Private Trip is recommended for:

Want to try hanging on the end of a rope while using specialized ice tools and crampons to climb your way up a near vertical wall of ice? 

  • The Glacier Blue Trek & Climb is the tour for you! The ultimate glacier experience of 10 hours features glacier exploration, ice climbing, and the longest possible time to explore the glacier. Advanced adventurers only! Please contact the office with any questions about this tour. $499 per person with a maximum of  4 people & only one departure time available a day. 

Trip Activities: Hiking, Glacier trekking with Microspike crampons

Trip Rating: Challenging (please see important note below – minimum age requirement is 12 unless booking a private trip with us).

Sample Itinerary:

  • 30 minutes – Van transport to West Glacier Trailhead
  • 30 minutes – Gear orientation & outfitting
  • 2.75 hours – Trail hike to glacier
  • 1 hour – Glacier trekking
  • 2.75 hours – Trail hike back to West Glacier Trailhead
  • 30 minutes – Van transport to drop off locations
  • Cost: $229 per person (plus 5% local sales tax) – Trips require a minimum of 2 people and have a maximum of 12 people.  Per person costs for a private trip vary depending on the number of people in the group.

  • Trip Duration: ~8 hours round trip

  • Bucket List:  Mendenhall Glacier, Glacier Trekking, Hiking Through a Temperate Rain Forest

  • Highlights/Trip Activities: Hiking, Viewing an Alaskan Glacier, Glacier Trekking with Crampons, Exploring Unique Glacial Features

  • Trip Rating: Challenging

  • Age Requirements:

    • Minimum = 12 years old unless booking a private. Private trip minimum = 8 years old.
    • Maximum = None, however, you must meet the physical requirements of the trip
  • Fitness Requirements: Must be fit enough to hike for 7+ hours covering over 8-9 miles of strenuous terrain (see trip description above) carrying a 10-15 pound backpack. 

  • Professional Guide

  • Backpack

  • Helmet

  • Trekking Pole

  • MICROspike Crampons

  • Rain Gear (Jacket/Pants)

  • Hearty Snack/Bottled Water

  • Roundtrip van transportation from near the cruise ship docks and many of the major hotels in Juneau.

  • USFS Permit

We recommend you prepare for rain and hope for sunshine in regards to the weather.  Due to the cool, damp climate it is best NOT to wear cotton and instead, wear clothing made of polyester, wool, fleece, nylon, polypropylene, and/or capilene.


  • T-Shirt
  • Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Insulating Layer (i.e. Fleece Jacket)
  • Gloves (fleece liner type)
  • Warm Hat
  • Sunglasses


  • Long Underwear (weather dependent)
  • Hiking Pants
  • Hiking Boots (preferably high top)*

* Running shoes, particularly lightweight ones are strongly discouraged.  “Toe Shoes” such as Five Fingers are NOT allowed.


  • Sun Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Repellent
  • Camera
  • Extra Snacks
  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Pants
  • Binoculars
  • Reusable Water Bottle (Pre-Filled)
  • Guide Gratuities

**WAIVER FORM**  Each individual on the trip must sign a waiver form at the start of the trip. Alterations and/or deletions to the waiver is not permitted.

Our glacier trips cater to all ages and abilities, however, you must be in good enough shape to hike for up to 6-6.5 hours, covering over 8 miles roundtrip over rugged terrain (an equivalent to over 12 miles of flat terrain). All clients will need to hike with a backpack the entire way on this trip. We provide a backpack and it weighs approximately 10-15 pounds and holds mountaineering gear, snacks/water, and extra clothing that you bring.

  • The first mile of the trail is well maintained and goes through forests with a few switchbacks. The remaining two and a half miles of the trail are very off the beaten path and requires hiking on bedrock with rock scrambling on steep sections. It’s important to have sturdy hiking boots that provide good ankle support while hiking on the rocky terrain. For a relatively fit group, it takes a little over two hours to hike to the glacier.
  • On all our glacier trips, we can’t guarantee how much exact time you will get on the glacier with crampons. The amount of time you get on the glacier is dependent on your group’s pace and weather conditions for the day. Most groups get approximately one hour at the glacier.
  • If a participant scheduled on a regular group trip cannot keep up with the pace of the group requiring another ABAK employee coming to assist additional charges will apply.
  • Visiting specific features such as ice caves cannot be guaranteed due to the constantly changing nature of the Mendenhall glacier.  Your guide will assess the hazards the day of the trip and determine if a particular area is safe enough to trek upon or enter.  Additionally, some groups will have an insufficient amount of time due to time constraints or too slow of a pace to access any ice caves.

  • We prefer clients not schedule other excursions directly before or after our trip. Please let us know if you do have another excursion booked on the same day, as we need to make a note of this in your booking form.

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  • About ABAK

    Above & Beyond Alaska, LLC is a local, employee-owned guiding company based in Juneau. We have been exploring the region from Ocean to Ice for over 25 years and guiding others since 2002. Our goal is to provide a complete Alaskan wilderness experience by sharing with clients our passion for the outdoors, technical know-how, and natural history knowledge.

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