• pond surrounded by green brush, reflecting a distant range of snow-covered mountains that are dominated by one massive mountain

    Denali

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Walks and Hikes

A variety of ranger-led walks and hikes are offered throughout the park. Joining a ranger is an excellent way to learn more about Denali.

While on a guided walk, you will experience the park with all your senses. You may or may not see wildlife, but you will certainly see signs of their passing. You will also see the indelible traces of winter, the dominant season that shapes all life in the subarctic.

Ranger-led hikes are offered from early June to mid-September each year. Trail descriptions are below; you may also want to check out a map of hiking trails in the park.
 
Visitors gather behind the Denali Visitor Center with a ranger
A park ranger gathers visitors behind the Denali Visitor Center for a two hour trail walk.
nps photo / kent miller
 

Horseshoe Lake Hike

The Horseshoe Lake Hike starts from the Denali Visitor Center, mile 1.5 on the Park Road. Parking is available at the center. No sign-up is required - simply arrive at the center a few minutes before the hike begins.

The hike is slow paced, though the trail does change from easy to moderate at various points. In wet weather, the trail can be muddy in areas. The hike lasts about 2.5 hours.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3 miles round-trip
Highlights: Scenic views of Horseshoe Lake and the Nenana River; occasional sightings of beaver and other wildlife
Elevation change: ~250 feet
Grade: 20% sections
Width: 60 inches
Surface: Native soils with roots and rocks

 

McKinley Station Walk

This 2 hour trail walk starts at the Denali Visitor Center, mile 1.5 on the Park Road. Parking is available at the center. You do not need to sign up in advance.

The McKinley Station Trail travels through an area that once housed early pioneers and, for a short while, National Park Service Headquarters in Denali. Occasional human artifacts can be found, including the remnants of a fox-farm. The trail eventually parallels Riley Creek and passes under the Alaska Railroad trestle which spans said creek.

The walk ends at Riley Creek Campground, where folks can catch a courtesy bus back to the Denali Visitor Center.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.6 miles (2 hours) round-trip
Highlights: Spruce forest; historic pioneer artifacts and remnants of habitation; views of Hines Creek and Riley Creek; views of a railroad trestle spanning Riley Creek, ~ 75 feet overhead
Elevation change: ~200 feet
Grade: 5% sections
Width: 72 inches
Surface: Well-compacted gravel

 

Eielson Stroll

The Eielson Stroll is offered at Eielson Visitor Center. The center is located at Mile 66 on the Park Road, and is accessible by any Kantishna, Wonder Lake or Eielson shuttle bus. Choose a shuttle bus that arrives at Eielson Visitor Center well in advance. The stroll is at a leisurely pace. Expect to spend forty-five minutes to an hour exploring the trail with a ranger.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 0.5 miles
Highlights: High-alpine tundra, tremendous views of Mt. McKinley on clear days, and chances to see large mammals such as grizzly bears and caribou
Elevation change: Negligible
Surface: Well-compacted gravel

 

Eielson Alpine Hike

The Eielson Alpine Hike is offered at Eielson Visitor Center. Choose a bus that arrives at Eielson Visitor Center well in advance. The hike is strenuous. Expect to spend two to two and a half hours hiking up and down Thorofare Ridge with a ranger. Hikes are limited to the first 11 visitors who sign up at the center that day, so arrive early to ensure a spot on this strenuous but memorable hike.

Difficulty: Difficult
Distance: ~2 miles
Highlights: High-alpine tundra, tremendous views of Mt. McKinley on clear days, and chances to see large mammals such as grizzly bears and caribou
Elevation change: 1,000' gain and loss
Surface: Native rocks, some gravel

Did You Know?

several languages written in their own script

Information on planning a trip to Denali is available in foreign languages. Currently available are: Korean | Japanese | Chinese, simplified | Chinese, traditional | Deutsch | Français | Россию More...