Unit 25: Healy Ridge

UNIT 25
HEALY RIDGE
Quota: 4
USGS Quad Maps: Healy C5, Healy D5

Description: Mount Healy is a 15 mile ridge that runs east-west and reaches elevations of up to 6,000 feet. The top of the ridge is mostly loose rock with jagged peaks and spires. The topography is very steep, with ridge tops and narrow creek bottoms providing the main travel routes through the unit. Due to the significant elevation difference between the edge of the unit near the Park Road and the tops of the ridgeline, the vegetation ranges from boreal forest all the way up to barren alpine ridges and snowfields.

 
A dry creekbed leading to Healy Ridge
A dry creekbed leading to Healy Ridge

nps photo

 

Tips/Special Features: Hikes in this unit don’t require a long trip into the park or a long hike away from the road. It is possible to reach alpine habitats within one hour by walking up one of the creek beds from the Park Road. Views of Denali are available from many of the ridge lines. The fall colors in this area are brilliant in mid to late August.

Access: This unit can be accessed by the free Savage River Shuttle system that travels the first 15 miles of the Park Road. It is a 35 min bus ride to Savage River from the park entrance. Look for dry washes on the north side of the Park Road as possible places to start a hike once you pass Mile 7. You also can start a trip from Savage River Campground or on an established trail from the Savage River Bridge.

Routes/Hiking Corridors: Most of those venturing to the high ridges of Mount Healy begin their hike from either the Savage River Bridge, or the Denali Visitor Center via the Taiga Trail and Mt. Healy Overlook Trail (Unit 24). The climb to the top is steep and the footing is often precarious. Following the ridge from one end to the other is possible, but is very challenging. There are very few places to camp on top of the ridges and little to no water.

Possible hikes in the lower elevations of the unit include ascending any one of the drainages that flow south from this unit and intersect the Park Road. From these drainages it is possible to contour across the foothills and to descend via a different drainage. You can also climb up into the headwaters of these drainages and use the major ridge system itself as a way to move east into Unit 24 or west to the Savage River.

As of summer 2010, the National Park Service is currently constructing a trail from Savage River Campground to the Savage River Bridge through the high alpine areas of Unit 25. While the trail is under construction, it is not recommended to go backpacking in this part of the unit; trail crews will be found on most days, building this new trail.

The best approach for a hike in the north end of the unit is from the bridge over the Savage River. Follow the Savage River Trail north to a small footbridge and then continue north along the west side of the Savage River. The trail is unmaintained beyond the footbridge and you will be required to do some bushwhacking. Once you have reached the north end of the Savage River Canyon, you can cross the Savage River back to the east side near Ewe Creek. There are many camping opportunities around Ewe Creek and in the foothills south of it.

Additional Notes and/or Hazards: Camp out of sight of the developed trails and campgrounds. When following ridges or cutting across hillsides please remember not to walk single file, to reduce your impact to the sensitive alpine soils and vegetation. Water can be difficult to find on the high ridges. Watch out for lightning storms and high winds on the exposed ridges in the summer months.

 
Fall colors on the tundra covering the north side of Healy Ridge
Fall colors on the tundra covering the north side of Healy Ridge

nps photo

Last updated: September 1, 2015

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755

Phone:

(907) 683-9532
A ranger is available 9 am - 4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you get to the voicemail, please leave a message and we'll call you back as soon as we finish with the previous caller.

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