Hiking in Denali National Park is a fascinating experience. Given that the park is 6 million acres, you’d expect it to have miles and miles of hiking routes, especially considering that much smaller parks like the Smokies have over 900 miles of path. Surprisingly, there aren’t many well-maintained hiking routes in the park, but the few that are there are stunning walks that are well worth your time during your stay.
This article will go over the top treks in Denali National Park and why they should be on your bucket list. This is the place to go whether you’re a hiker or just appreciate being in nature. Hiking at Denali National Park is one of Alaska’s most popular activities, and with good reason. It’s the ideal location for exploring the country’s outdoors and taking in its natural splendor. There are only 35 kilometers of paths in Denali National Park in order to conserve the park. If you choose, you may trek off-trail, which will provide you with a more “off-the-beaten-path” experience.
1. The Gorge Creek Trail
The Gorge Creek Trail begins at the Eielson Visitor Center and descends the mountainside through switchbacks to Gorge Creek. Because it is a steep slope and the terrain is uneven and unstable underfoot, getting down to the brook may be challenging. When hiking these sorts of terrain in the National Park, some individuals even choose to utilize trekking poles. This climb offers spectacular views of Denali and the Alaska Range, making it one of the top views’ hikes in Denali. If you’re hiking this path in July, it’s also an excellent place to harvest blueberries. If you wish to go off-trail, you may start at the conclusion of the trek. Backcountry camping units inside Denali National Park may be found from here.
2. Overlook Trail on Mount Healy
The hike up to Mount Healy’s viewpoint is quite steep, thus getting there is no simple task. The path begins with a mild climb, but after around 1.2 miles, the grade begins to steepen significantly. During the final 1.5 miles of the path, you will be trekking the bulk of the elevation gain. However, once you reach the viewpoint, you will be rewarded with a 360-degree panorama of the park, making this climb one of Denali’s most famous. You may go farther out from the rocky outcrop where this route terminates if you’re feeling daring and want to attempt off-track trekking.
Hiking around Mount Healy’s ridges, on the other hand, may be quite perilous, so take your time. Because it is one of Denali’s most demanding walks, you will find it to be much calmer than others.
3. The harrowing Alpine Trail
If you don’t have much time in Denali National Park but want to perform a more rigors walk, the Savage Alpine Trail is a suitable option. This climb, however, is not for the faint of heart since, despite its short length, it has a fairly high incline. You’ll have spectacular views of the Alaska Range once you reach a high enough height, and if the weather is clear enough, you may even be able to sight Denali itself.
Keep a watch out for animals such as Dall sheep and Arctic ground squirrels when trekking this path. Bears do wander through this region, so make sure you’re prepared and do some study on bear safety inside the National Park. The Savage Alpine Trail is one of the top walks in Denali National Park because of the magnificent vistas and the difficulty.
This path is not a loop, so keep that in mind. Parking at Mountain Vista and taking the free shuttle up to Savage River is the best option. This way, you may relax and enjoy the trek without worrying about transport timings.
4. The Thorofare Ridge Trail
One of the most demanding walks in the National Park is the Thorofare Ridge Trail. This is due to the steep and short rise. Although the path is short, you will gain 1,000 feet in elevation during that time, which means you will be trudging uphill for the length of the trip. The journey is hard and tough, but you will not be disappointed once you reach the summit.
You’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the surrounding environment and snow-capped peaks at the top of the crest. More experienced hikers might choose to go into the backcountry from here, although a backcountry permit is necessary. The Thorofare Ridge Trail (previously known as the Eielson Alpine Trail) is one of Denali’s most popular walks since it provides some of the park’s greatest vistas.
5. Trail of the Three Lakes
The Triple Lakes Trail is Denali National Park’s longest trek, with boreal woods and three stunning alpine lakes. As one of Denali’s most popular walks, the path is well-maintained and simple to follow. It finally reaches a ridge with spectacular views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains and National Park. Wildlife sightings are prevalent along this path, with the possibility of seeing moose, beavers, and perhaps bears. The greatest time to go on this trip is generally in the fall, when the woodlands here turn a gorgeous shade of orange, so bring your camera.
Hikers may trek Triple Lakes Trail in a variety of ways. The first option is to begin at either end of the route and trek to the other end before returning. The other alternative is to drive to either trailhead and trek part of the path before returning. The third and recommended method is to park at one of the trailheads, ride the Denali Park Village Courtesy Shuttle to the other trailhead, and trek back. I normally park at the visitor center and take the Village trailhead shuttle. The Denali Park Village Shuttle generally stops near the trailhead, but it’s a short walk over the bridge if they don’t. The current shuttle timetable may be seen here.
6. Horseshoe Lake Trail
Because it is short and the terrain isn’t difficult, the Horseshoe Lake Trail is one of the easiest trails near the park entrance. The route encircles the whole lake in a round loop, and it also includes a stroll along the Nenana River. Because the path is just 250 feet in elevation, it is also a family-friendly and child-friendly track. As a result, the Horseshoe Lake Trail may become rather crowded, so if you want to avoid the crowds, start your journey early in the morning or late in the evening.
When going on this walk, one thing to keep in mind is to take safety measures. The beginning of the route is besides a railway track, and trains do travel on this track, so stay a safe distance. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy the Horseshoe Lake Trail, which is home to Denali’s native beavers. Moose may be seen throughout the warmer months.
7. Trail of the McKinley Bar
Another fantastic walk to perform when travelling through Denali National Park is the McKinley Bar Trail. Before arriving to McKinley River, you’ll travel along an alpine watercourse, lush pine trees, and along the beautiful Wonder Lake. On a clear day, a stroll down the river will reward you with a stunning view of Denali Mountain and the surrounding Alaska Range.
You could even spot bear, wolf, and moose tracks if you investigate the mudflats of the McKinley River. Simply avoid stepping on the mudflats oneself, since they are deep, and you may sink very far. If you want to see breathtaking vistas, the McKinley Bar Trail is one of the top walks in Denali National Park. It’s worth noting, though, that there isn’t much shade on this climb, so it may become scorching on a sunny day.
8. The McKinley Station Trail
The Mckinley Station Trail, which is near to the Denali Visitor Center, is an excellent opportunity to appreciate the natural splendor of the region. You’ll pass through quiet forests, along picturesque streams, and view some of Denali’s most historic structures as you make your way around this path. The railway trestle bridge, Riley Creek, Hines Creek, and the Silver Fox Ranch are some of the other things you’ll encounter on this walk.
This path has a low elevation of about 100 feet, making it a good choice for families. During the on-season, rangers offer walks along this trail for anyone interested in learning more about the region. They provide hikers with background information on the surrounding region and its rich history, making it an ideal method to learn about the park.
9. The Trail by the Roadside
Although the Roadside Trail and Bike Path are officially two separate paths, they do intersect. These are the only two paths where dogs are permitted, however they must be kept on a leash at all times. The Roadside Path runs besides Denali Park Road and is the ideal trail to go if you want to view the kennels’ sled dog display. The bike trail, as the name implies, is primarily for bicycles and is the only path in the park where cycling is permitted. The surface is well-compacted gravel and is quite level with no gradient, making it ideal for riding.
10. The Rock Creek Trail
The out-and-back Rock Creek Trail normally begins and terminates at the Denali Visitor Center. If you like loop paths, however, you may return via the Roadside Trail and the Meadow View Trail for a variety of view. The Rock Creek path is considered a family-friendly route due to its short length. However, due to a 15% elevation gradient in certain areas, some portions of the path are regarded to be fairly hard. This path links the Denali Visitor Center with the Sled Dog Kennels, making it an excellent choice if you want to view a sled dog demonstration. Make sure you allow at least 2 hours for hiking before the demonstration begins. On a clear day, the ridgeline views of adjacent Mount Healy are the highlight of this path.
11. Jonesville Connector Hikes
Denali National Park has four Connector paths, with the Jonesville Connector trail being one of the most helpful. This is the ideal path to take if you’re walking between the National Park and Glitter Gulch since it’s the shortest. The route also serves as a shortcut to the Canyon from Riley Creek Campground.
12. The Meadowview Connector
The Meadowview Connector is a bridge that connects the Rock Creek and Roadside Trails. It also links these paths to the Taiga Trail, offering you a second choice. A rest place around halfway along the trek gives breathtaking views of the National Park. It is also an excellent location for a picnic. The views of the spectacular red and orange autumn hues from this connecting route are recognized for being particularly breathtaking in the fall.
13. Morino Loop Connector
The Morino Loop Connector route takes you through a spruce forest on a short trip. This route connects to the McKinley Station Trail and may be utilized to shorten the journey.
This route is situated at mile 13 of Denali Park Road and is one of the shortest in the national park. This route provides excellent views of the Alaska Range and the alpine tundra below, while being just a short hike. On a clear day, you may be able to glimpse a spectacular view of Denali Mountain while ascending this trek. The Mountain Vista Trail is the trail to take if you don’t have a lot of time in Denali National Park but really want to see Denali.
Another fascinating part of this path is the many signage that you may see. They contain information about Savage Camp and the park’s first visitors, who arrived just as tourism was beginning to take off. Bring binoculars since this route also provides a fantastic chance to watch animals in the distance.
14. The Oxbox Loop
The Oxbox Loop path does not appear on any of the trail maps that are supplied to you. It’s almost like a hidden route, so if you’re looking for a peaceful getaway while visiting the National Park, this is the trail for you. The walk is one of Denali’s simplest since it loops around an oxbow bend in the Nenana River and has very little elevation gain. It’s also ideal for trail running since the path is level and the terrain isn’t uneven. The Oxbow Loop path begins and finishes on Highway 3 approximately 7 miles south of the National Park’s entrance.
Go through the list of these hiking trails and pick the best one based on your preferences. Then you can get an unforgettable hiking experience while you are at the Denali National Park.