Fresh Air, Fantastic Scenery
There are several hiking trails around Bartlett Cove near Glacier Bay Lodge. All are fairly easy-to-moderate walking. There are no other established trails in the park, and most backcountry travel is by kayak.
NOTE: Visitors should be aware that hiking in Alaska means hiking in bear and moose country. Park rangers can offer safety information pertaining to bears and moose at the Visitor Center and Visitor Information Station upon request before starting your Alaska hikes.
Forest Loop Trail
A one-mile long loop trail begins at the Glacier Bay Lodge and ends near the dock. This easy Alaska hike winds through a pond-studded spruce/hemlock forest for one half mile (handicap accessible), then descends to the beach. In May and June, when the spring bird migration is at a peak, the trail is full of bird song. June and July are the best times for wildflowers.
Bartlett River Trail
Allow a half-day for this five mile round trip Alaska Hike (from the Glacier Bay Lodge). This Alaska trail is not difficult, but has numerous muddy spots during rainy periods (rubber boots recommended). It meanders along an intertidal lagoon, through the forest, then emerges and ends at the Bartlett River estuary where ducks, geese and other water birds concentrate during migrations and molting in intertidal areas. This Alaska trail is minimally maintained near its beginning, and not maintained beyond the first ½ mile.
Bartlett Lake Trail
This Alaska trail branches off from the Bartlett River Trail about one quarter mile from the Gustavus Road. About three miles in length (six round-trip), it winds through a temperate rainforest and leads to Bartlett Lake. This Alaska trail is not maintained.
An extended 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 songbirds on the forest's edge and water birds off-shore. Flowers are profuse in mid-summer on the beach meadows.
Backcountry hiking in Alaska is done along glacial riverbeds or intertidal beaches. Hiking into the alpine is also an option, but be prepared to tangle with steep slopes, massive tree falls and sometimes impenetrable alder. Sitka alder is a successional plant that grows in a mass along beach edges, avalanche chutes, and up mountain slopes.