General Hike Information: Mt Jumbo
Mt Jumbo Rating: ★★★(3/5 Stars)
Distance: 6.10 miles RT
Elevation Start: 40ft
Summit: 3,337 ft
Estimated Time to Complete: 3-4 Hours RT
Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult What does this mean?
Season: Year Round – Expect snow November– June
Getting Here: From downtown Juneau, take the Douglas Bridge across Gastineau Channel to downtown Douglas. Once near the traffic circle (about 2.1 miles from the Channel bridge), continue on to 3rd street. Then, turn right right on Summers St and left on to 5th Ave. Once you are on 5th ave, look for the small brown sign in between two houses that says Mt Bradley Jumbo. The easiest way to navigate here is to enter “Mt Jumbo Trailhead” into your GPS. Be sure that it is navigating you to the Mt Jumbo in Juneau. It will be pretty evident if it is not…
Parking: Street parking is your best option for this hike. Be respectful of the parking signs and resident’s houses. There are no bathrooms here and there could be very limited parking along the street.
Dogs: This is a dog friendly hike with lots of exposure once you get above the treeline. If you are hiking Mt Jumbo in the winter or spring, there will be a couple of very steep sections. Having a dog on a leash here would be awful, but it is still doable. There are no technically challenging sections of this hike though.
Camping: Camping is allowed on Mt Jumbo, but there are not a wide variety of flat, dry spots. Your best bet for camping will be near the summit (just above treeline). If you do decide to camp near the summit, you will need to hike about 2 miles up steep terrain to reach a suitable area.
Make it a Loop: It’s time to get honest, I am not extremely familiar with hiking in Juneau, AK. I know one trip there should make me an expert, so I apologize. What I can tell you is that Mt Jumbo is an out and back hike. However, when we reached the summit, there was a well traveled trail that went in the opposite direction that we had ascended. Where does this go? I do not know…
Trail Summary: Mt Bradley, known by locals as Mt Jumbo, is the tallest peak on Douglas Island. This 3,337 foot mountain is easily seen from downtown Juneau. The hike to the summit is deceptively difficult. You go from about 40 feet above sea level to 3,337 in 3 miles. What is even more insane, is the fact that you gain almost all of this elevation in 1.5 miles. It is a STEEP hike for about half of your trip to the summit. If the weather is clear, the summit of Mt Jumbo will give you tremendous views in all 360 degrees.
Trail X Factors: Elevation
Do you like stepmasters? If so, this hike is for you. What starts off a pretty average hike, turns into 1.5 miles of serious elevation gain. I honestly thought there was something wrong with everything I had read about Mt Jumbo. Maybe the surveyors messed up the elevation of this mountain? Maybe my watch was wrong? Boy did I find out the hard way. The thing that is unique about this hike is all of the roots along the way. You would think that with all of this elevation, the descent would be easy. Wrong. The numerous roots and poor sections of the trail make for equally slow going on the way down.
- Waterproof Hiking Boots/Shoes
- Rain Jacket
- Mickey’s Mountain Kit
- Water / Snack
- Optional: Mountain Axe
- Optional: Bear Spray
- Optional: Hiking Poles
- Optional: Camera
Mick’s Tip: Pace Yourself & Hiking With Bears
You may look at this 3 mile hike on paper and say, “pshh no prob bob.” I am not a pro athlete or fitness model, but am in pretty decent hiking shape. I had to take my time going up this bad boy. The first 1.5 miles are pretty easy, but save some gas for the remaining 1.5 to the summit, in addition to the descent down. Normally, I love going down mountains because I can get into a jog type pace but this is not possible for Mt Jumbo because of the number of steep sections and roots everywhere.
If you have hiked with bears before, you can skip the following section.
Black bears vs brown bears:
Black bears are the more curious of the two types of bears. You have probably seen one of these before. If you see one, make a lot of noise (talk to it, clap your hands, etc.) and make yourself as big as possible, it will usually spook and run away. If that does not work, they do sometimes use bluff charges IE a way to scare you away. Do not run in this case because it will result in the bear thinking it is prey or a game. Both will not end great for you. If the black bear does fully charge you, you will need to protect yourself/flee if possible, as they will not stop. This is very rare to occur and will only happen if the bear is feeling threatened.
Brown Bears: Unlike their smaller cousins, the brown bear is a much larger animal. Brown bears are common in southeastern Alaska and if you see one, do not pee your pants. Even though they look menacing, brown bears are not out to attack you. Just like black bears, they are generally harmless. If you see one, make your presence known. Bears do not like to be spooked. Brown bears may also bluff or fully charge, just like black bears. If a brown bear charges you, do not move. Stand your ground. Most likely it will be a bluff, but if not you will find that out pretty quickly. If you are fully charged by the bear, get into a fetal position and play dead. Try to roll onto your stomach to protect your vital organs. If the bear does start to sniff/maul you, play dead and try not to make noises. Most accounts of those who survive bear attacks are because the bear thought the human was dead and left them alone. Super light reading here, I know.
Photography Tip: While hiking Mt Jumbo, you will have great views down into Juneau, cross a couple of streams and travel through lust forests. Since the hike is short(er), you don’t have to worry about bringing all of your camera gear. The biggest thing to watch out for when planning your hike is the weather forecast, because if it’s a cloudy day your views will most likely stink.
Mick’s Trip Mt Jumbo
Jackie and I loved our time in Juneau and spent much of our time there on lower elevation hikes. On our last full day on this trip, we decided to head above treeline and hike Mt Jumbo. The theme of our trip was mother nature being on our side. This hike was no different. We arrived to the trailhead and the sun was shining and there were almost no clouds in the sky. With relative ease, we found the trailhead and began the hike into the dense rain forest that covered Mt Jumbo’s base.
As we slowly worked our way up through the lush forest, I had bears on my mind once again. I knew that this hike was not terribly popular and we were clearly the first people to be attempting it on this particular day. We made lots of noise and I tried to push the news of a resident shooting an aggressive bear in his yard just days before our hike, to the back of my head. The hike slowly wound up the steep hill that surrounded Douglas Island and we soon heard water. Around a half mile into the hike, the trail crossed a raging river which was fueled by the melting snow above. At this point, we were only 347 feet above sea level and if the summit was accurate, I knew we had some serious climbing left. Once we left the water behind us, the trail entered this massive open field which was a really cool change of pace from the forest we were used to hiking in. It was a massive wide open field that seemed almost marshy in a lot of ways.
After we crossed the field, we were now 1 mile into the hike. I could see that the trail was about to enter the forest again, but I thought something was off. We were only about 600 feet above sea level and if the elevation of this mountain was 3,300 and change, we would have to climb over 2700 feet in less than 2 miles? We did find out later that the distance to the summit was about ¾ of a mile longer than what we had read, but the elevation part was indeed right.
From 1 mile to the summit, the climb was steep and steady. Around 1.75 miles we reached the snow line which continued basically all the way to the summit. Since we were on vacation, I had none of my spring hiking gear, so made due with a stick that doubled as a mountain ax. Poor Jackie was left SOL. We continued up the snow and before breaking treeline had a very steep hill to climb.Once we ascended that steep hill, we were able to see Mt Jumbo for the first time all day. The summit seemed so close, but I knew we still had about a mile to go. The trail we had been following all day continued across a narrow ridge and eventually to the doorstep of Mt Jumbo.
Around 2.5 miles in, we lost the trail and decided to create our own path to the summit. Shortly after, we ran into this curious white bird who half groaned/half growled at us. Good Morning to you as well. Finally, with what seemed like 4 hours, we reached the false summit of Mt Jumbo and could see the real one only a couple of hundred yards away. When we reached the top, Jackie and I were both a lot more tired than we had expected to be. This hike was supposed to be relatively easy, but turned out to be far from that. The positive however was the amazing views in all directions.
We enjoyed the summit of Mt Jumbo to ourselves for several minutes until the only other hiker we encountered all day arrived as well. We were both about to enter cannibalism, so we decided to start our trek down and get some lunch. I wish I could say that the hike down was quick, but it was slow and painful. About 2 full podcasts later, we were back at the car and willing to drive over as many cruise ship tourists as it would take to get to some fresh seafood.
Overall, I enjoyed the hike up Mt Jumbo. I felt as though it was one of the few times on our trip when we were “living like a local,” instead of doing popular tourist attractions. Even in the early summer, expect this mountain to have snow and bring all of your leg muscles, you will need them. However, if you can summit on a clear day, the views from the top are outstanding and will make your climb worth it.