Looking over Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley, Thunder Mountain is named for avalanches that crash down the steep slopes in spring and winter. Thunder Mountain is the shortest of the five most famous mountains in Juneau (Mt Juseaun, Mt Jumbo, Mt Roberts, and Mt McGinnis), but the hike is steep and will probably take at least half a day to finish.
As with all of the mountains in Juneau, hikers and visitors enjoy a variety of vegetation as they ascend. The hike trails start walking through a cool rain forest, then muskegs, and eventually reach the alpine. Once the trail rises above the tree line, hikers are rewarded with commanding views of The Valley, Lynn Canal, Auk Bay, and Douglas Island. If you hike on a rare clear day, the top of the Mountain affords a great view of the Mendenhall Glacier and the incredible surrounding mountains.
A variety of fauna and flora share this Mountain with visiting humans. The trees at this place are predominantly spruce and hemlock, with alders in avalanche paths and a couple of cedars on the northern slopes. Devils club abounds through the area, so look before you grab skunk cabbage lines, the mostly muddy trail, and alpine flowers poke through the snow starting late in spring. Mountain goats, bears, marmots, eagles, ptarmigans, and ravens are frequently found in this area, and lucky hikers can spot wolves. Don’t expect a quiescent wilderness experience during summer as helicopters fly over the Mountain to carry tourists to the glacier.