Time is limited for many visitors, however, and some people find endless options to be endlessly difficult to plan. With that in mind, here are a few recommendations for hikes less than three hours in Denali. These can all be reached from the Denali Visitor Center, and can be seen in the map below.
Horseshoe Lake Trail
- Access: The trailhead is about half a mile from the visitor center. Reach it via the Taiga Trail or the Bike Path.
- Highlights: The trail starts with an overlook of a pretty lake. It descends rapidly to the lake, where you have a decent chance of seeing moose, beavers or waterfowl. The trail loops all the way around the lake, so expect a steep uphill section at the end of your hike.
- Return: Horseshoe Lake is a loop, so you'll return to the visitor center via either the Taiga Trail or the Bike Path.
- Learn more about Horsesehoe Lake Trail
McKinley Station Trail
- Access: The trailhead is about a quarter-mile from the visitor center. Reach it via the Spruce Loop (you can take either leg of the Spruce Loop to reach the McKinley Station trailhead).
- Highlights: The trail descends to and meanders alongside Hines and Riley Creeks, which are the main unique feature of the trail.
- Return: You can return via the Bike Path (about 1.5 miles) or use a free courtesy bus to return to the visitor center (summer only).
- Learn more about McKinley Station Trail. If you're using the NPS mobile app, please also note that there is a self-guided tour of the McKinley Station Trail therein.
Meadow View Trail
- Access: This short trail connects the Roadside and Rock Creek Trails. Using both of those trails, as well as a part of the Taiga Trail, you'll end up hiking a loop that starts and ends at the visitor center.
- Highlights: Roadside, Taiga and Rock Creek Trails are mostly in mixed spruce and aspen forest. The Meadowview Trail overlooks a namesake meadow and offers great views of mountains to the southeast.
- Return: As mentioned above, this loop will involve a short portion of three other trails—the Roadside, the Taiga and the Rock Creek.