I go to Juneau almost once a month for my job, and have really fallen in love with the city (see this post, this post and this one too). Southeast Alaska has an enormous forest, excellent hiking, friendly people, and a gigantic glacier to boot! I always enjoy going and wanted to share the magic of Juneau with Matt.
Luckily, my work date lined up with some cheap airfare so we were able to buy Matt and plane ticket and extend my work trip out for a weekend! Also, is anyone else depressed that I now consider anything below $300 a cheap ticket? Ugh, let’s not think about that.
One of our first stops was the Mendenhall Glacier. You’ve seen me reference it several times, but the enormity of it just blows me away every time. Even Matt was caught off guard by its beauty.
At Mendenhall, we did a little over 2 miles walking on the frozen mudflats, taking the time to stop and skip rocks.
We finally made our way out to Nugget Falls, which is located near the glacier.
It’s a MASSIVE waterfall. While we were chatting with the Park Ranger, she told us that when she started working there in 1982, you couldn’t even see Nugget Falls because the glacier was so far forward it covered it up. Mendenhall Glacier has retreated roughly 1.75 miles since 1958, creating Mendenhall Lake and exposing pre-glacial forests.
After hanging out at the Falls, we headed back to the car to go hike Perseverance Pass located near downtown Juneau.
The parking sitch wasn’t ideal since they had closed access to the main lot due to the fact that normally there is snow on the ground and it isn’t maintained in winter. But, we got a 4 mile hike in along the Perseverance Trail. Due to the fact that it’s been getting dark so quickly, we had to turn around before we reached the Glory Hole Overlook. Next time though.
A very cool thing about this area is that it is all old gold mines. Perseverance Trail is actually where the first road in Alaska was. They literally used to drive cars along a narrow road on the edge of a mountain that could experience an avalanche at any time. People in 1915 were badasses.
We had the coolest run in with wildlife too: WE CAME ACROSS A PORCUPINE!
We heard a little scuttle in the woods, and saw a small animal start to climb a tree, just like a koala. Upon closer inspection, it was the cutest porcupine I have ever seen in my life! Did you know porcupines can climb trees? They are like, expert tree climbers.
He was so shy and adorable, and if his quills weren’t so prickly and painful to remove I would have probably tried to catch him and cuddle him. My animal obsession is getting out of hand, you guys.
Since Juneau is so wet (it is a rainforest, after all), there was a lot of moss and just green everywhere in the woods. It felt to me like a place where fairies could just pop out and surprise you!
Other things we did while in Juneau:
- Hotel: Westmark Baranof. Clean, friendly, and central to downtown. We easily walked everywhere downtown. Bonus: free parking!
- Friday lunch at V’s Cellar. It’s one of my favorite restaurants in Juneau and the tacos can’t be beat.
- Friday dinner at The Rookery. It was yum.
- Saturday dinner at The Island Pub. I highly recommend the 4 Little Pigs pizza!
- Sunday brunch at Rockwell. (delicious!) The restaurant is located in the old Elks hall!
- Bars: Rendevous for live music, Silverbow Inn Wine Bar (hosted a poetry slam!), Lucky Lady Pub (for playing pool and chatting with locals), The Alaskan (for playing Chinese checkers and watching the locals), & Triangle for getting your trivia on. All these bars were located in the downtown area, walking distance from our hotel on Franklin St.
- Drove out to the Shrine of St. Therese, a beautiful church built out of stone on a peninsula into the Gastineau Channel.
It was an amazing trip spent with my best adventure partner. We didn’t get a chance to explore the Mendenhall ice caves, so we’re thinking about going back in February when Mendenhall Lake is frozen over and walking across to see them! With the glacier retreating, some of the caves are collapsing and there is no telling how much longer they’ll be around!