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Mendenhall Glacier and Environs

Borough of Juneau, Alaska, USA (August 1995)

Also be sure to see the Travel/Geography Blog

Juneau Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier Face and Lake

Glacier Location

Mendenhall Glacier forms just north of the Mendenhall Towers, a portion of the Coast Mountains that reach nearly 7,000 feet. The glacier trends south from this point until it empties into a beautiful lake about 10 miles northwest of the city of Juneau and a couple miles from the airport. It was named for a former superintendent of the Geological Survey, Prof. Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, in 1892.


Glacier View

Above the Eastern Flank of Mendenhall Glacier

Mendehnall Glacier is part of the USDA Forest Service's Tongass National Forest. It includes a visitor center that is open to the public. Here are some interesting facts about the glacier:

Much more can be found on the Tongass National Forest's Mendenhall Visitor Center website.


Mendenhall Lake Waterfall

Looking Down a Waterfall Near Mendenhall Glacier

There are several trails around and near the glacier. Some are quite easy to follow as meander around the edge of the lake, while others are more challenging and provide great views from higher elevations. This is the top of a waterfall that cascades down the hillside into Mendenhall Lake. It's gaining momentum before a big drop.


Temperate Rainforest

Rainforest Vegetation Near Mendenhall Glacier

One path is called the East Glacier Loop Trail. It wanders through groves of trees that are 100-200 years old and protected within the boundaries of the Tongass National Forest. The vegetation in the photograph demonstrates why this is considered a rainforest. When most people think of rainforests they conger images of hot tropical climates, but that isn't the case in Juneau. This is a great example of a temperate rainforest.


Tsongass National Forest

More Rainforest Vegetation Near Mendenhall Glacier

Here is another view of temperate rainforest flanking Mendenhall Glacier. Notice that planks have been placed on the right side of this image. The ground is so constantly wet and muddy that a narrow boardwalk had to be constructed through this section of trail. It keeps mud off of hikers' boots. More importantly it prevents erosion that would ordinarily be caused by hundreds of trampling feet in this protected wilderness.