Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Best trails for seeing Glacier Bay’s wonders

Black bears in Bartlett Cove. Photo courtesy Glacier Bay NPS.
Among the best ways to see Glacier Bay National Park’s top sights is via a day hike. Just a couple of short trails will allow you to spot some of the park’s marine animals and large North American land mammals.

No hiking trails lead to the park’s famous tidewater glaciers, but many of them can be seen via cruise ship, tour vessel, chartered private boat, or accessed by sea kayak.

Marine animals
Humpback whales, harbor seals, Minke whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, orcas, sea otters, and Steller sea lions all can be seen at the national park. Take the extended shoreline hike from the Bartlett Cove dock along Beach Trail toward the campground (Beach Trail is a mile long and the extended trail goes up to 6 miles one-way); listen carefully for the blowback of humpback whales.

Large land mammals
The expansive national park is home to grizzlies, black bears, moose, Dall sheep, wolves, and a number of other species. To spot some of them, take the Bartlett River Trail for a 4-miles round-trip through a spruce/hemlock forest to a river estuary. Moose, black and brown bear, coyotes, and river otters usually can be seen along the beach; in late summer, harbor seals hunt salmon there.

Learn more about national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks guidebook.