Mount McGinnis: Camp on one of Juneau’s epic summits

Since I’d moved to Juneau, I’d seen pictures taken from Mount McGinnis all around town and on the local photography Facebook page that featured an epic, elevated view of Mendenhall Glacier and the surrounding mountains. And I HAD to see it for myself.

So, shortly after convincing Melissa that Mount McGinnis would be a great overnight, rather than a day hike (I really wanted to see a sunset and sunrise from this place), we were fortunate to have a sunny weekend ahead and we packed our bags and went for it.

Mount McGinnis is one of Juneau’s BIG 5. Which is a list of “walk up” peaks that surround the township. Walk up, in other words, means you don’t need special gear to summit.

(Though, you should always have the 10 essentials with you AND pay close attention to the weather. With massive glaciers, mountains, and the sea, weather can change fast in Juneau. )

The Stats

  • Trail Name – West Glacier/Mount McGinnis
  • Length – 11 miles RT
  • Elevation Gain – 4,185 feet
  • Parking Pass – America The Beautiful
  • Backcountry Pass – N/A

This trail begins at the West Glacier trail. Follow it to the end at a rocky outcropping, then turn uphill. This is where the Mount McGinnis trail begins. The trail goes through willows and alders for the first half mile or so and there are orange survey tags attached to bushes or trees to help guide the way.

Okay, 4,100 feet is a LOT for any hike. Be warned, almost 3,000 feet of gain come in the last 2 miles, making Mount McGinnis a burner. Also, if you go late season, there are only a few stagnant pools of water near the top. Your best option is to bring a reservoir and fill up at one of the creeks on the way up. We both packed 3 liters up for our stay.

Please note: the trail is often very steep and can be difficult for people living with mobility restrictions.

Getting There

You’ll start this hike at the West Glacier Trailhead. This link will show you how to get there via google maps

Red Tape

As always, practice leave no trace in wilderness areas. This goes for trash and human waste. Pack out your trash. Dig a cat hole if you have to poop and either pack out or burn you tissue paper.

Remember, these areas are for everyone and no one wants to pack out someone else’s trash or TP. Be respectful, be kind. Good karma always comes around, the same is true for the opposite.


For another fantastic Juneau adventure, check out my blog post on The Eagle Glacier Cabin, here!

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