There are two ways to experience Denali on your own two feet - on a marked trail, or off-trail in the wilderness.

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Map of trails near the park entrance
Trail descriptions
Trails beyond the park entrance: Savage River, Eielson Visitor Center, Wonder Lake
Off-trail hiking
Map of closed areas
Wildlife safety

Trail Guides

Check out resources for self-guided trail hikes. You may wish to download or print these materials in advance, though cell / data service is available while on many of these trails, if you wish to access them while hiking.

Trails in Denali

Trails in Denali are largely centered around the Denali Visitor Center.

Some of these trails are utilitarian - they travel alongside the Park Road and connect the visitor center with other important facilities in the entrance area of the park, such as the park sled dog kennels, Riley Creek Campground and the Wilderness Access Center. Other trails offer a departure from the immediate surroundings of the Park Road, allowing you to seek a bit of solace and quiet, while still having an obvious, established path to follow.

With a few exceptions, trails in Denali are generally considered easy to moderate in difficulty, and some trails are ADA accessible.

Below is a map featuring trails in the park. Zoom in and click on the various trails to get descriptions, difficulties, and lengths. A few trails exist farther west in the park, and can be seen by scrolling in that direction. The menu in the upper-right of the map lets you change what type of base map you are using, make it full-screen, and print if you wish. A simplified, printable version is also available.
Trails Not Near the Park Entrance

A few trails exist deeper in the park, beyond the first three miles of the Park Road. You can find them in the map above by scrolling to the west-south-west.

Savage River Area
Located around Miles 13-15 on the Park Road, you can either drive to Savage River and park for the day, or you can board a free bus, called the Savage River Shuttle, at any entrance area facility.

  • The 2-mile long Savage River Loop is a mellow walk along the river. The surface is uneven and rugged in areas, but there is no significant elevation change.
  • The more strenuous Savage Alpine Trail runs more than four miles, and connects the Savage River area with Savage River Campground. Use the Savage River Shuttle to travel back to your starting point if you need to pick up a car, or use it to return to the park entrance if you have no vehicle; or, you can walk about two miles along the park road.

Learn more about the Savage River area

Eielson Visitor Center: Located at mile 66, you can reach this center by any shuttle bus traveling to Eielson or beyond. On a clear day, the entire area offers magnificent views of Denali.

  • The Tundra Loop is around a third of a mile through alpine country, very close to the visitor center. A spur trail leads an additional quarter of a mile, one-way, off the Tundra Loop.
  • The Eielson Alpine Trail is a very steep hike of around 1,000 feet. The trail is a bit less than one mile one-way, up Thorofare Ridge. The views are particularly impressive on clear days!

Wonder Lake: Located at mile 85, you can reach Wonder Lake with either a Wonder Lake or Kantishna shuttle bus.

There is one trail in this area, called the McKinley (River) Bar Trail, leading from Wonder Lake Campground to the McKinley River. It is 2.5 miles one-way, with negligible elevation gain. The trail travels through spruce forest and past several small ponds, offering chance to see water fowl and terrain which is different from much of the park. It is plagued most of the summer by mosquitoes, so bring a head net.

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Trail Details

Note that some trails are loops, and so a round-trip time and distance is offered. Other trails are not loops by themselves, and so the time and distance numbers are for a one-way hike. Add multiple one-way trails together to estimate a larger loop (e.g., the Rock Creek and Roadside Trails).

Download a print-friendly map and chart of trail info, with additional details like connecting trails, max grade and trail surface.

Trail / Description




Horseshoe Lake Trail - A popular trail that descends to, and travels entirely around, a lake.

1 hour one-way

3.2 miles

250 feet

Taiga Trail - A short, forested trail mainly used to access Horseshoe Lake from the visitor center.

45 minutes one-way

0.9 mile

75 feet

McKinley Station Trail - Descend from the visitor center to Hines and Riley Creeks, and pass under the Alaska Railroad trestle.

1 hour one-way

1.6 miles

100 feet

Mount Healy Overlook Trail - An increasingly steep hike out of the forest and into the alpine country. Potential views of Denali, if skies are clear.

2 hours one-way

2.7 miles

1,700 feet

Roadside Trail - Travels uphill from the visitor center to the sled dog kennels and park headquarters.

1 hour one-way

1.8 miles

350 feet

Bike Path - Travels right along the Denali Park Road, between the entrance and the visitor center.

45 minutes one-way

1.7 miles

150 feet

Jonesville Trail - A steep shortcut from Riley Creek Campground to the Canyon, the business district outside the park.

10 minutes one-way

0.3 mile

75 feet

Parks Hwy Bike Trail - Paved path alongside Highway 3.

30 minutes one-way

1.0 mile

50 feet

Rock Creek Trail - Occasionally steep trail through forest. Similar route to Roadside, but a bit longer and much quieter, as it's farther from the road.

1.5 hours one-way

2.4 miles

400 feet

Meadow View Trail - A very narrow trail overlooking a meadow, forming a short connection between Rock Creek and Roadside Trails.

30 minutes

0.3 mile


Triple Lakes Trail - Denali's longest trail, with bridges over two creeks and great views of three lakes.

5 hours one-way

9.5 miles

1,000 feet

Morino Trail - A short trail through spruce forest. Good for a quick walk while waiting on a bus or train.

15 minutes one-way

0.2 mile


Spruce Forest Trail - A short trial through spruce forest. Good for a quick walk while waiting on a bus or train.
20-minute loop

0.2 mile


Hiking Off Trail

Denali is nearly the size of Massachusetts (or just over half as large as Switzerland), and most of the park is devoid of human-made trails.

The idea of hiking in the wilderness, with no trail to follow, excites some hikers and confuses or intimidates others. However, the nature of Denali's Park Road and bus system, and the terrain itself, can make trail-less hiking more approachable than it may seem at first blush.

Silhouetted hiker on a rocky outcrop, misty skies and snow-dotted plain in the distance below.

Off-trail hiking in Denali can be challenging, but hugely rewarding.

nps photo / neil blake

Where to Start?

This is a question that only you can answer. Every person will want something slightly different out of their day hike, and the sheer size of Denali prevents any one spot from being "the best."

A good strategy is to take an early shuttle bus into the park, traveling to your turn-around point and scouting the terrain from the Park Road. On your return towards the park entrance, you can tell your driver to let you off at whatever area looked most appealing.

After your hike, you need only return to the road and wave down any passing shuttle. You can get a copy of the latest bus schedule upon arriving in the park, or you can download one. While uncommon, the first shuttle or two that you try to re-board may be full, so prepare for a worst-case scenario of waiting an hour for a ride. Many hikers will carry a book, or will cycle through their digital photos just taken during the hike to make the potential wait go by quicker.

In a trail-less wilderness like Denali, you will dictate your route. By avoiding terrain traps like pockets of spruce forest and alder, you can make navigation easier. Tree-line in Denali is generally around 3,000' above sea level, and much of the 92 mile Park Road travels near or above that level.

Above tree-line, you will find either brushy tundra, with plants that may slow your travel but allow you to see over them, or alpine tundra, with extremely short vegetation that offers no impediment to your speed or your visibility. In many parts of the park, you will find that the Park Road stays in your view, even after several miles and several hours of hiking.

Learn more about terrain types in Denali
Travel Tips

The list below is not exhaustive, but should help in planning your off-trail adventure.

  • Carry adequate food and water. There are no restaurants or amenities west of mile 3 on the Park Road.
  • Bring a means to treat water, such as purification tablets or a water filter.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Avoid cotton and choose either quick-drying synthetic materials or wool, which insulates even when wet.
  • Plan for bad weather. Rain is likely (and snow is possible) in summer. A hat, gloves, rain jacket and rain pants may be necessary.
  • In the case of a storm, avoid high ridges and exposed areas.
  • Other gear, such as trekking poles, calf-high gaiters and ankle-high boots will make your hike more comfortable.
  • Be prepared to self-rescue and carry a first aid kit. Travel immediately to the Park Road and flag down a ranger or bus driver if you need assistance.
  • Be aware of wildlife closures and avoid hiking within them.
  • If your children require a child seat on the bus, keep in mind that you'll need to either carry them or safely store them before setting off on a hike. Child seats can be left in the food storage sheds at any campground, in the food lockers at the Toklat River rest stop, or at Eielson Visitor Center. Car seats may not be left by the roadside - they often have food smells that attract animals large and small.
Visit the Backcountry Information Center if you have specific questions or concerns.

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Stay Safe

Ideally, you will be hiking with at least one other person, and will stay in areas where visibility is excellent - allowing you to see animals at a great distance, and avoid them when necessary. In areas of brushy or alpine tundra, you can sometimes see for miles.

However, you will likely face areas of reduced or limited visibility while day hiking. When your visibility is reduced, you should make noise, either by talking with your partner, singing, or simply shouting "Hey bear!" every few minutes. The human voice is distinctive, and tells wildlife that you are in the area - thus minimizing surprise encounters, which are the most likely scenario for a large animal to harm a person. Bear bells, whistles, etc., are no substitute for your voice. The first few "Hey bears!" may seem silly, but with enough repetition, they will seem a natural part of hiking in Denali.

Read more about wildlife safety

Did You Know?