One of my favorite Juneau hikes traverses through the seemingly magical alpine meadows of Mt. Roberts, about 2,000 feet above sea level and downtown Juneau. Reaching the wildflower blazon meadows is a strenuous 2+ mile adventure if you are not a seasoned hikers. To access the Mt. Roberts trailhead from Basin Road is an easy 1-mile walk from the heart of downtown Juneau. I regularly meet cruise ship passengers hiking the trail, probably with the intent of burning off some of the calories ingested on the all-you-can-eat cruises.
Tourists and beginner hikers can access the lower meadow trails thanks to the Mt. Roberts Tramway that spirits tourist up 1,745 feet to the Mountain House, the gateway to the many magnificent miles of trials across Mt. Roberts, Mt. Gastineau and Gold Ridge. Admittedly, I often take the tram as there are times I don’t want to trek miles just to bathe in the beauty of the mountain’s meadows with their cornucopias of colorful wildflowers. Or, if I choose to hike beyond the tourist-trodden lower trails, it is much easier starting from the tram trailhead.
The tramway and Mountain House are owned by Goldbelt, a Juneau-based Alaska Native corporation of the Tlingit people. Therefore, the Timberline Restaurant, Chilkat Theater, gift shop and near-Mountain House trails showcase awe-inspiring Tlingit art, including a variety of finished totem poles and poles in progress. If you make up to the Mountain House, you must, yes must, watch Seeing Daylight, an 18-minute award-winning film highlighting Tlingit history and culture. It’s wonderful, colorful and thought provoking.
Gastineau Guiding also has a Nature Center/gift shop adjacent to the Mountain House. There, you can buy a map of area trails, including info on my favorite hike to Gold Ridge another strenuous mile from the Mountain House. If you hike up from Basin Road, but choose to ride the tram down to sea level, it will cost you $10. Instead, spend $10 at the Timberline Grill and your receipt doubles as a ticket down to sea level.
Once you leave the mountain house, it is just minutes to the first meadow and several platforms and viewpoints showcasing Gastineau Channel, Douglas Island, Mt. Jumbo, the peak of Mt. Roberts and downtown Juneau.
Caution* If you walk or hike across Mt. Roberts, it is imperative you stay on marked trails. There are 300 miles of old mining tunnels carved throughout the Mt. Roberts with many air shafts and access points now covered over with dense vegetation. Locals and visitors have mysteriously disappeared on Mt. Roberts, never to be found.