Unit 10: West Branch Upper Toklat River
Tips and Special Features
The extensive glaciers at the headwaters make a popular destination, but use extreme caution when on the glacial moraines or ice. Traveling on glaciers should be avoided unless hikers are properly trained and equipped.
Access to any of the backcountry units to the west is technically possible, but only by making long climbs over steep scree, rock, and/or glacial moraine. One pass leads into the upper Sunrise Glacier valley (Unit 12), but this route requires good map and compass skills due to the hidden nature of the pass and the natural hazards that surround it. Getting to Sunrise Glacier also involves navigating several miles of glacial moraine on both sides of the pass and crossing steep snowfields. Other passes lead to Upper Stony Creek (Unit 11) and Gorge Creek (Unit 12) on the north side of Green Dome. Both of these routes usually contain steep snow until July. Watch out for hidden waterfalls in the drainages that are difficult to navigate around – this unit has many surprises. Access to the east into Unit 9 is covered in the description for that unit. Scott Peak at the head of this unit is only attempted by experienced mountaineers and is very rarely climbed from the Toklat side.
The Park Road is less frequently visible from the upper portions of the river when compared with Unit 9, but the large Toklat Rest Stop tent is visible even up to the headwaters, 7 miles away. You do not need to camp out of sight of the tent, just out of sight of the Park Road – but aesthetically speaking, you will likely want to camp where you cannot see the tent.
Did You Know?
Warmer average temperatures over several decades have resulted in expansion of woody vegetation. If this warming trend continues, it will change Alaska's ecosystems and drastically alter the physical appearance of Denali's landscape, as treeline marches higher up the mountains.