Feel Juneau’s Iconic Waterfall
The trail branches off in front of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors center and skirts the lake. Several little creeks along the way can form beautiful little pools that create great wildlife hot spots. The young budding forest is full of Sitka alder, black cottonwoods, and several species of willow. This is a popular highway for porcupine, beaver, and red squirrels in the early spring and late fall.
While this is a spectacular bird watching area, it is a sensitive nesting area, especially for Arctic terns. The sandy peninsula is often tempting to explore, but please be cautious of disturbing wildlife as it is often crucial times for them when they choose to use this area.
Out at the falls the thunderous tumult of Nugget Creek is an awe-inspiring experience. There are not many places where one can easily walk so close or even into a waterfall of such magnitude. Even though the waterfall only came out from under the Mendenhall Glacier in the 1980’s, the glacier is already barely visible from the sand spit below the waterfall. Often times icebergs can be seen from this viewpoint, but less and less of the glacier is visible every year.
The sandy trail is is relatively new and fairly wide due to its high traffic during the summer. In the winter it is rarely used as locals tend to ski or skate via the lake when it freezes. Keep in mind that the ice near the waterfall is much more thin due to the current created by the falls.
Overall, this trail is a great way to feel the rush of powerful water without having to be in it. Definitely a rare treat and well worth the time.