Ice Caves Hike (June 2011)
On the west side of the Mendenhall River (the opposite side from the visitor center where the buses take the tourists) there is a trail that goes to the Mendenhall Glacier. It is considered the country's most accessible glacier. A three mile hike on the West Glacier Trail, then the Ice Caves Trail will get you to its edge. Along the sides of the glacier there are ice caves big enough that you can walk in.
|The GPS track of this hike. The trail starts on the left.|
On the way out I hiked up the Mendenhall Lake Edge Trail which is an unofficial trail with lots of flowers.
|Flowers on the Lake Edge|
|A Bird Along the Trail|
This trail runs splits off from and rejoins the West Glacier Trail; it is mainly a walk along the edge of the lake. When the lake level is up, this trail is underwater. After rejoining the West Glacier Trail, I took a right turn onto an "Unmaintained Hazardous" trail, which is a rough trail marked with cairns that leads to the side of the glacier. At the end of this trail, there is a short descent to the glacier. I did not see any ice caves right away so I walked onto the glacier. The surface was rough ice and not too slippery. The top of the glacier is hilly, not smooth. The far side of the glacier is filled with seracs (ice columns).
|Ice Arch on the Mendenhall Glacier|
|Stream on the Glacier|
Then I went back to the side a little further down the glacier and found a couple of ice caves.
|Blue Ice Cave|
|End of the Glacier|
I plan to go back again with my new camera which should be able to handle to lighting better than the one I use on this hike.