A white-blue shock tumbling between mountains into the river valley that bears the same name, Herbert Glacier is a popular but still secluded stop for tours to the Juneau Icefield north of Alaska’s state capitol. Though Herbert doesn’t have the wow factor of tumbling into an impressive reflecting pool of its own meltwater like neighboring massive Mendenhall Glacier, Herbert Glacier is deeper inland, boasts a dramatic backdrop of snowcapped peaks and frequently visited by heli-flight. Often combined with fly-overs to Mendenhall and thick Taku Glacier, Herbert Glacier’s flow has several flat landing spots that offer the chance to set foot on its chilly, slow moving mass. Its surface also affords one of the most unique ways to experience a glacier in the region: by dog sled. After landing on the glacier, a team of huskies guided by an experienced musher navigates the glacier’s eternal winter wilds.
Perhaps one of the reasons this glacier is so beloved by residents and visitors alike is the Herbert Glacier Trail, a relatively flat and just-under 10-mile hiking and biking route, one of the more family-friendly jaunts with foot access to glacier views in the region. In the summer, the trail winds from the highway past blueberry bushes, mushroom patches and kettle ponds with the occasional beaver or river otter.
The Herbert Glacier Trailhead in the Tongass National Forest is located just past the bridge over Herbert River on Glacier Highway at Mile 28. One-way in and out trip takes between four and five hours. For visitors planning on stopping atop glacier, its good to wear warmer clothes even in summer—it can be as much as 15 degrees cooler on the ice. The cost of helicopter tours to Herbert from Juneau start around $290.