The Best Bike Routes in Alaska: Scenic Biking in Juneau

Take in scenic view of Mendenhall Glacier while on a bike tour of Juneau, Alaska.
Take in scenic view of Mendenhall Glacier while on a bike tour of Juneau, Alaska.

Some of the best bike routes in Alaska can be found in historic Juneau, which has been rated as one of Alaska's three bicycle-friendly communities. In Juneau, you can bike through rain forests, enjoy glacier vistas, and see native wildlife. If you're thinking about heading to Juneau on your next Alaska cruise vacation, check out one of these fantastic rides.

Glacier Views Along One of the Most Well-Known Bike Routes in Alaska

Of the bike routes in Alaska, Juneau's Mendenhall Valley tour is the best. This moderate (meaning it doesn't have difficult hills to climb) nine-mile bike ride starts out near Auke Lake by your first picture-perfect vista, the Chapel by the Lake — an old, charming log chapel with a view of the Mendenhall Glacier across the lake.

Pass by the University of Alaska Southeast on your way to the beach at Mendenhall Lake for a spectacular view of the Mendenhall Glacier from the west side. From the beach, continue riding along the path to the east side of the glacier, where the glacier's visitor's center is located.

Park your bike and take the short walk to the viewing gallery, where you can see the glacier from a closer, more awe-inspiring perspective. Along the path, pay close attention to the stream running nearby, which is where salmon spawn during the later summer months.

Tongass Rainforest Ride: The Most Tropical Bike Route in Alaska

Starting out at the Eaglecrest Ski Area, this 9.5-mile, moderate-to-difficult (meaning that there are hills and significant elevation change, with the route starting at 1200 feet) bike ride will take you through the Tongass National Rainforest. A scenic bike route, the rainforest ride will provide you with amazing views of mountain, valleys, and glaciers. On a clear day you'll even be able to spot the Thomas Harding Glacier.

After you get through the five-mile hilly section, continue for two miles along a relatively flat road for some great views across Fritz Cove of the Mendenhall Glacier. Keep an eye out for bald eagles that hunt over the water as you go.

Over the next two miles you'll ride along the coastline to False Outer Point. This is a great place to see sea lions and an abundance of intertidal beach life such as urchins.

The Gear: What You Should Bring When Pedaling in Alaska

Temperatures can reach into the 70s Fahrenheit in Alaska during the summer, so dress appropriately. That said, wearing layers is a good idea if temperatures are cooler, and bring a jacket in case of rain. Some guides provide gear for you like gloves, so be sure to check with them ahead of time. And as these routes are definitely photo-worthy, you may want to bring along a waterproof case for your camera.

The best way to access these locations is to sign up for a bike tour, on which you can also visit some exciting off-path sites, such as an award-winning Juneau brewery. For a half-day trip, these guided tours pack in a lot of sightseeing.

Interested in heading to Juneau on an Alaskan cruise? These bike tour shore excursions have the added benefit of picking you up from your cruise ship.