JUNEAU, Alaska–The US Forest Service has closed the back side of the Steep Creek trail near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. Walkers and bikers will no longer be able to cross between Moraine Ecology Trail and Steep Creek Trail. This action is taken annually to prevent unwanted human/bear interactions and to allow access for black bears fishing for sockeye salmon in Steep Creek.
Hikers and cyclists will continue to have access to Moraine Ecology Trail from trailheads at Mendenhall River, Dredge Lakes, Glacier Spur Road, and the Juneau Ranger District parking lot. Signs have been posted at the four access trails alerting trail users to the closure. The closure boundary is clearly marked with yellow rope and yellow signs along Moraine Ecology Trail. Maps will be posted at trailheads indicating the closure zone.
Black bears congregate at Steep Creek during sockeye and coho salmon runs from July through late autumn. By allowing adequate space for bears feeding on salmon, more bears are viewable from the meadow and stream area adjacent to the glacier’s parking lots and platforms.
“We have learned that when there is less stress among bears, the bears spend more time where we can watch them,” said Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center Director John Neary. “Bear watching is an activity enjoyed throughout the summer by Juneau residents, and for many visitors to Alaska, it is a lifetime goal.”
Steep Creek has become one of Alaska’s most accessible bear viewing areas. The Forest Service encourages everyone to follow simple guidelines when observing bears at Steep Creek: no food or flavored beverages; no dogs or bicycles; calm demeanor and slow movement; courteous and respectful behavior so everyone can enjoy the experience. Forest service staff is on-site most of the time.
The back side of the Steep Creek trail is expected to be reopened by November. For more information, call the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center at 907-789-0097.