The Nugget Falls at Tongass national forest in Alaska is less than a mile long, but it gives you an excellent taste of the great wilderness. The trail starts halfway down Photo Point Trail and goes around the flats at the edge of Mendenhall Lake. The whole trip is about 2 miles. 

From the alpine area, you can see both the glacier and the plants and animals in the area. You can see bald eagles and mountain goats walking on rocky paths from above.

Around the lake, arctic terns nest in the summer, and black bear cubs come out of their dens at eye level. Salmon and trout dart around under the surface of the cold water in the lake.

tongass national forest in Alaska

History Of Tongass National Forest in Alaska

President Theodore Roosevelt established the region as the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve in 1902. In 1908, the forest was renamed and extended; now, the 16.9 million-acre Tongass national forest in Alaska runs from the Pacific Ocean to the enormous interior ice fields that border British Columbia and from the southern point of Prince of Wales Island to the 500-mile-long Malaspina Glacier to the north.


There is a lot of wildlife in the Tongass national forest in Alaska. Here, you can find the Sitka blacktail deer and its two main predators, the wolf and the brown bear. There are many black bears, mountain goats, and moose. Along the coast, you can find Dall’s porpoises, harbour porpoises, seals, sea otters, humpback whales, minke whales, and killer whales. Many kinds of fish are in the water, like halibut and all five types of Pacific salmon. There are more bald eagles in this area than anywhere else.


Tongass national forest in Alaska is the world’s largest temperate rainforest, and its sizeable coastal area has its tallest hemlock, spruce, red cedar, and yellow cedar trees. Under the giant conifers are young evergreens and shrubs like devil’s club, blueberry, and huckleberry. 

Even though Tongass has the largest temperate rainforest in the world, almost half of it is covered by ice, water, wetlands, and rock. Its most famous ice floe is the Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska’s “drive-in glacier” because it is only 13 miles from downtown Juneau on a paved road.

A boat journey from Petersburg to Wrangell gets you close to the face of LeConte Glacier, the continent’s southernmost tidewater glacier. The 76-mile-long Hubbard Glacier, the world’s longest tidewater glacier and one of Alaska’s most active, lies just 30 miles north of Yakutat. The rip tides and currents in front of the 8-mile-wide glacier are so powerful that Hubbard calved practically continually.

The Lower Trail

Because Mendenhall Lake was virtually under the path’s level, we went over a large dirt track spanned a few tiny creeks. We didn’t want to follow the crowd, so we chose the lower path, knowing that most people wouldn’t be prepared for the minor stream crossings and muddy parts. Then we discovered a bear paw print in one spot, which led me to conclude that bears visited this region and Steep Creek, where they went sockeye salmon fishing.

Following this rough trek, the enormous sandbar at the foot of Nugget Falls and the Mendenhall Lakeshore were instantly accessible.

As waterfall walkers, this was probably the closest.

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The Upper Trail

As was already said, it could join the upper part of this trail to the lower beach trail to make a loop. Even the infrastructure was set up so we could use our phones to download an app with exciting information. It is about the history of some of the numbered stops along the route. We had never seen anything like that before, but it seemed an excellent way to avoid printing pamphlets or books to explain what was happening.

We’ve heard that the lower trail could get flooded sometimes due to heavy rain, high tides, or even a wave caused by a glacier breaking off. As a result, we believe that the lower half of the path may be impassable under such conditions, leaving just the higher trail available to visit Nugget Falls at Tongass national forest in Alaska.

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Bear Sightings

The most significant opportunity to observe bears on the Steep Creek boardwalk is between the parking lot and the visitor centre. The boardwalk went up above Steep Creek, which looked like the perfect place for salmon to spawn and where black bears seemed to like to eat. There were clear signs that they were there, like dead fish and bear paw prints. Sockeye (red) salmon were said to come to Steep Creek from the middle of July to the centre of September.

Also, silver coho salmon would come to Steep Creek from the middle of September to the beginning of October.

tongass national forest in Alaska

Final Thoughts

If these options don’t make you want to go hiking, there are many more to choose from all over North America’s big, hilly continent. The weather is excellent, and the time is right, so enjoy some of the great wilds the U.S. offers before the sun goes down and the air gets cooler. It’s difficult to resist the thrill of viewing a waterfall, and Nugget Falls at Tongass national forest in Alaska is no exception.

It is one of the more accessible waterfalls, and you can get spectacular views of the whole glacier region on the walk to the falls, making it even more appealing.

Suppose you’re visiting the Mendenhall Glacier. Set aside an hour to an hour and a half to see this waterfall up close! This waterfall is worth a visit in terms of value for your trekking time and effort.

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