Easy Park Hikes – Forest Loop Trail in Glacier Bay National Park

Forest and pondRanger guided hike at Glacier Bay NP.

The Forest Loop Trail offers some fine scenery near Bartlett Cove. The trail is a popular choice for ranger-guided walks. Photos by Jim Burnett.

Sometimes a short, easy hike is just what you need for a nice change of pace during a park visit. Here's a suggestion for a trip to Glacier Bay National Park.

Most visitors to Glacier Bay never set foot on land, getting a part-day glimpse of the area's stunning scenery from the deck of a cruise ship. Others spend a little longer during an all-day excursion that begins and ends with a flight from Juneau.

If you're one of the visitors fortunate enough to spend a little more time in this remarkable chunk of Alaska, a different view of the park that doesn't include any glaciers or time on the water is available on a short, easy walk near the park's visitor center and lodge at Bartlett Cove. This trail is a great choice if you've taken the full day boat tour in the park, and have a little time before dinner at the Lodge.

The Forest Loop Trail covers a mile of scenic rain forest and a bit of the shoreline. The route is a regular choice for a ranger-guided walk during the summer season, or you can easily make the trip on your own. The guided trip takes about an hour and half; you can certainly cover the distance in less time, but that would be a shame—there's plenty of scenery and peace and quiet along the way.

The trail surface varies from dirt and crushed rock to sections of boardwalk, and it's almost entirely flat. High elevation? Not a problem—this route remains just a few feet above sea level.

You can pick up the trail near the Lodge or the marina. A short distance from the marina, a fork in the trail takes you either up the Forest Loop Trail or on to the small, walk-in campground.

The Forest Loop Trail is one of several short strolls in the vicinity of the Glacier Bay Lodge. Another easy route parallels the shoreline to a point near the park headquarters, and the Beach Trail follows the shoreline south from the docks; it offers a great opportunity to observe the park's marine life at low tide.

You'll find additional information about hikes at Glacier Bay on the park's website, along with plenty of details to help plan a visit. If can arrange your trip to spend at least one night in the park, it's worth the time, the extra cost—and the hike.