Juneau Alaska with kids: lesser known Mt. Roberts Tramway hiking

If you’re experiencing Juneau Alaska with kids, you’re most likely arriving by cruise ship. If you’re very lucky, you’re cruising via a small-ship cruise, disembarking ahead of the masses, but even if you’re onboard a large cruise ship, families can escape the crowds of downtown Juneau. The trick is getting kids to pass up the Juneau souvenir shops lining the dock in favor of harder-to-reach but rewarding hiking spots.

mt roberts tramway

The Mt. Roberts Tramway is located in the heart of touristy downtown, and costs a whopping $31 per adult, $15 per child to ride (we recommend you do so via a cruise excursion instead, or buy a combination pass), but once you’re on the tram, you leave downtown behind. The views on the ride up are amazing (even during partly foggy or rainy weather), and once at the top, it’s fairly easy to ditch the crowds by skipping (yet more) souvenir shops and the top-of-mountain restaurant. Head to the nature center, where (amid even more souvenirs!) kids can find information about the mountains here, including what wildlife to be looking for. Hint: there are mountain goats up here!

Hiking Mt. Roberts

From the nature center, the Alpine Loop Trail is only .5 mile, but fairly steep with commanding views. (Bring binoculars.) From this loop, it’s easy to add more length by taking one of the many side trails (they all end up eventually back on the Alpine Loop and then back at the nature center.

If you want to escape humanity entirely, opt to hike the trail back down to Juneau (instead of taking the tram back down). The trail is clearly marked on Mt. Roberts’ trail maps (pick one up when you arrive), and doesn’t take as long as you’d think…probably because it’s all downhill. This said, the way is steep and often slippery. We recommend kids be at least eight years old (you are your child’s best judge) and that everyone has good footwear. Do not attempt in rain. The trail will deposit you on the opposite end of downtown Juneau from the tram (approximately a 10 minute walk back). The plus side of ending away from the tourist zone: you will pass several historic houses (including one resided in by Sarah Palin) en route back to the main drag.

Mt. Roberts nature center

Hiking in Juneau is a great way to experience the beautiful scenery here (and I bet you’ll still have time to buy a t-shirt or two). Stop for lunch after hiking at The Hanger, located right on the bay. The kids will enjoy watching the float planes take off and land, and the food is fast and delicious.

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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