Blackerby Ridge offers direct access to Observation Peak, Camp 17, and Cairn Peak. The ridge itself is broad and does not contain any technical climbing, nor does it have any exposed sections. It is, however, a long and taxing route. One attempting Blackerby should allow for plenty of daylight and be prepared for a full day of strenuous hiking.
From downtown Juneau take Egan Drive south to Salmon Creek (turnoff for the hospital). Turn right. Make another right on Wire Street, then left on Greenwood Avenue. The trailhead is on right side of the road.
The route starts at the base of Vanderbilt Hill and rapidly becomes steep as it takes you through the dense hemlock forest. Expect the trail to contain no switchbacks and be very wet. During a rainy day this trail could be a regretful experience. Through the forest you will pass through thick blueberry and salmonberry patches.
After tree line, the trail continues to gain the ridge. Once in view, Blackerby Ridge is a breathtaking sight. The alpine setting is a surreal green, covered with wildflowers, and commonplace for mountain goats, eagles, willow ptarmigans and black bears. The trail generally heads East and is faint and at times, but does continue for the most part on the crest of the ridge to Cairn Peak.
The hike up Cairn Peak’s southwest slope is quite steep. The trail will lead you to a short section of rotten rock (class 3) and from there the summit is only a few hundred feet away. From there turn to the North and head to Camp 17. Descend onto Lemon Glacier and head to Observation Peaks West ridge. Avoid a steep section on the West Ridge by traversing over to the snow and back to the ridge.
See attached .gpx route for a exact description and or check out the Juneau Hikes and Summits CalTopo page.
Dress appropriately. The rains are very consistent and can easily penetrate through your gear. I recommend dressing in clothing that can get wet and still keep you warm- wool works great. Then, above tree line, change into dry clothes and rain gear. Waterproof boots are necessary and gators help keep your socks dry. Having a SPOT or InReach is a great idea. Bring extra dry/warm stuff.
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