Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!
The Juneau Ranger District of Tongass National Forest surrounds Alaska’s capitol city, including Mendenhall. The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center opened in 1962 and was the U.S. Forest Service’s first visitor center.
The trail system around Mendenhall Lake winds through fairly young ecosystems. These areas haven’t been out from under the ice for long. The glacier once covered the whole valley. Mendenhall Lake formed in 1929 as the glacier receded.
We took a tour with Gastineau Guides that began with a walk through the rainforest. We followed the trail from the bus parking lot to the Moraine Ecology Trail. This led to a beach with views of the glacier and Nugget Falls.
From there, we took the Steep Creek Trail. This trail has elevated boardwalks for viewing sockeye salmon and bears. The salmon weren’t running yet, but we did see a porcupine napping in a tree over the boardwalk.
Location: 12 miles from Juneau
Designation: National Forest
Date designated/established: September 10, 1907
Date of my visit: June 2, 2022