The road up Moose Creek starts at Mile 88 of the Park Road, just south of the Moose Creek Bridge. It travels east towards upper Moose Creek for eight miles before terminating at Spruce Creek (Unit 41). This road crosses Moose Creek at least 15 times. These can be difficult on foot due to the creek’s fast, single channel flow. If water levels are too high for these multiple crossings, it is also possible to travel cross country along the creek bottom and adjacent ridges. This travel will be slow and through thick brush, but it is a safer alternative during high water. The road mainly stays on the north side of the creek.
Another way into this unit is at the end of the Park Road, the north end of the Kantishna Airstrip. This is a winter trail that continues north on the east side of Moose Creek. It then loops east around Wickersham Dome crossing Canyon, Flat and Glacier Creeks before joining the road along Caribou Creek. This route crosses wet, boggy and spongy areas and should only be attempted later in the summer when there are fewer mosquitoes and a possibility of drier ground.
There are heavily used trails up both Wickersham Dome and Camp Ridge from where they sit closest to the Park Road. These can be used to create shorter loop hikes in the area.
The descriptions offered here are only possibilities. When hiking in the Kantishna Hills, as with the Denali Wilderness, you are encouraged to explore and discover your own routes. For longer trips, you can easily access Unit 41 from the ridgeline and continue northeast along the Kantishna Hills.
Additional Notes and/or Hazards: Moose Creek flows in a single channel and during periods of high water, it may be difficult to cross on foot. Mosquitoes are usually dense in this part of the park in June and July.
There is a large “Day Use Only” zone in this area due to the proximity of various private lodges and private property. Make sure to mark off this no-camping zone on your map and to camp out of sight of the Park Road and all the Kantishna lodges. Despite the modern development, it is still very easy to get disoriented on the large, flat ridge tops when dense clouds and fog blanket the hills. Make sure you have a compass and map and know how to use them.
If you plan to hike in this unit, be aware that it is outside of designated Wilderness. In 1980, Mount McKinley National Park was expanded and renamed Denali National Park and Preserve and this area was included as part of the new park’s additions. The Kantishna Hills and surrounding areas are a historic mining district dating back to the early 1900s. There are patented and un-patented mining claims in the area, private property and privately owned and operated lodges. People who have traditionally hunted, fished and trapped in the area continue to do so.
The miners in this area established travel routes along ridges and in creek beds to access their claims. There are cabins, equipment, old roads and assorted refuse on public and private land in very remote areas. Hikers in the Kantishna Hills must respect private property and the cultural significance of the mining history. Do not disturb the historic relics and never enter a private residence without prior permission.
If you obtain a backcountry permit for units 40 – 43, be sure to take the free hand-out from the Backcountry Information Center which explains the regulations and warnings pertaining to the Kantishna Hills. It may be unsafe to drink the water from the following streams due to heavy metal contamination: Eldorado, Slate, Friday, Eureka, Caribou, Spruce, Glacier, Stampede and Moose Creek below Spruce Creek. Water filters, boiling and chemical treatments are ineffective for treating water with heavy metal contamination.