The Denali National Park in Alaska is home to spectacular panoramic vistas, magnificent wildlife, and record-setting stately mountain peaks – it certainly is the stuff of dreams!
The Denali National Park has the highest mountain peak in North America, with several trails where hikers are encouraged to venture into the uncharted wilderness. While some trails are more strenuous than others, they offer something truly unique that you can only find in this spectacular park.
While hiking in the Denali National Park can be a magical experience, choosing a trail that meets and exceeds all your requirements is essential. So, read on!
Hiking in Denali National Park: What You Should Know
Unlike most parks in North America, the Denali National Park encourages hikers to veer off the trails to establish new routes across the park.
Denali hosts two types of fare-paying buses. The non-narrated transit buses are cheaper than the tour buses and far more flexible, as you can leave or enter the bus at any point along the road.
It is imperative to have a topographic map on hand when hiking off the beaten track, including a compass, as it is incredibly easy to get lost in the wilderness.
Hiking along riverbeds or ridges (on clear days) is an easy way to navigate the park, as long as you are heading in the right direction.
If you would like to join a Denali guided tour with the park’s rangers, ensure that you are well equipped with robust footwear protective clothing, including adequate water and food supplies.
The Best Hikes In Denali National Park
The trails around the entrance are ideal for quick and easy hikes, and there is ample parking in the area.
Although, the only downside is that you will have limited views of the spectacular Denali peak, so you will have to venture further into the park.
Mount Healy Overlook Trail
The Mount Healy Overlook Trail, which takes up to four hours, provides an unhindered panoramic view of the park, with Denali peak far in the background.
This trail includes a rather steep section, and it can be challenging for the average person, so be aware of that before you embark on this journey.
Savage River Loop Trail
The Savage River Loop Trail starts at the Savage River parking area and is an easy trail that is nevertheless mightily beautiful, and it only takes around two hours to complete.
There is also a great chance of encountering wildlife like caribou and wandering sheep. This picturesque trail is also suitable for hikers with knee problems as it is a mostly flat terrain that is easy to navigate.
Triple Lakes Trail
If you’re looking for a challenging hike – look no further! The Triple Lakes Trail takes about 5 hours one way and starts at the Denali Visitor Centre. For a shorter hike, take the shuttle at the southern entrance of the Nenana River bridge to access the trailhead.
The elevation of 1 000 feet is sure to keep you on your toes, but you’ll be well rewarded with three majestic alpine lakes along the way.
On top of this, the trail offers spectacular views of the Denali peak, including the Alaska mountain range.
Thorofare Ridge Trail
If the Triples Lakes Trail sounds way too long for you, the Thorofare Ridge Trail might be perfect.
The trail starts at the Eielson Visitor Centre; while it only takes 2 hours to complete, it is a strenuous and steep root. However, the trail boasts scenic views of Denali that are seriously impressive!
Curry Ridge Trail
One of the easier trails in Denali National Park is the Curry Ridge Trail. It was previously known as K’esugi Ken and is a pleasant route to take if you want to see both alpine lakes, including the park’s iconic Denali peak.
This trail can take up to 4 hours and features views of Denali by a third of the way. It is a great hike to do if you want to see Denali without exerting yourself.
Horseshoe Lake Trail
The enchanting Horseshoe Lake Trail is perfect for wildlife encounters!
Industrious beavers are commonly spotted along this trail, building their little homes, and moose are often spotted in the lakes, cooling down.
Equipment For Hikes
Preparation is key when you plan to venture into the wilderness, and it is imperative to be ready for every eventuality as far as possible.
Invest in a durable waterproof, breathable day-pack to safeguard your hiking kits with easily accessible pockets.
Pack adequate water supplies and food, as you might get lost and need enough sustenance to last until someone finds you.
Similarly, take a first aid kit, compass, map, a flashlight, including a handy multi-tool. Other essentials include sunscreen, matches, bug and bear spray, including a lightweight emergency blanket, and a raincoat.
Choose sweat-wicking clothing for hot summer months, accessorized with a wide-brimmed hat or cap, and layered thermal clothing for cold winters, including thermal socks and sturdy waterproof hiking boots.
It’s imperative to consult with a National Park Services ranger at the Denali Visitors Centre before you set off on any trail. Certain trails are more strenuous or potentially hazardous than others.
The park rangers can provide life-saving guidance concerning your trail’s terrain, the equipment you would need, weather forecasts, and other vital safety precautions.
It is much safer to hike in groups and ensure that no one is left behind, especially if you are not hiking on an established trail.
Most importantly, inform a loved one that you are going for a hike and when you will be back so that they can alert the authorities if you fail to return.
Alaskan weather conditions can be highly unpredictable at times, so know when it’s time to turn back should there be a threatening storm. Who knows, it could save your life!
The Denali National Park offers a profound abundance of breathtakingly beautiful trails in the sublime heart of the Alaskan wilderness. It provides a unique experience to explore Mother Nature in all its magnificent glory.