The vast, undulating tundra of Denali National Park, with the majestic Denali Mountain rising in the clear blue distance.

The 19 ABSOLUTE Best Hikes in Denali National Park for 2024

Denali National Park is home to breathtaking wilderness just made for hiking. Many of Denali trails have spectacular views of Denali (formerly Mount McKinley), and those that don’t follow glacier river valleys or into taiga forests.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice looking for an adventure, Denali holds an experience for you. However, hiking in Denali is a little odd. You’d expect that a six million arce National Park to have hundreds if not thousands of miles of hiking trail, but Denali doesn’t. Due to the tundra’s remote and unique nature, only a few maintained trails in the park.

In total there are only 35 miles worth of trails throughout Denali. However, you can also choose to hike off-trail if you wish, which will give you a more “off the beaten track” experience. 

The article is a guide to the best hikes in Denali National Park and Preserve:

  • Best Denali Trails by Each Skill Level
  • Map of Denali Trailheads
  • Things to know about hiking in Denali
  • What to pack for a Denali Hike
  • Frequently Asked Questions about Denali Hiking
A winding road meanders through a vast, grassy tundra towards majestic, snow-capped peaks shrouded in clouds, showcasing the serene and rugged landscape of Denali National Park.

Best Airbnb and Vacation Rental

My pick is the

Savage Alpine Trail. This 4-mile trail takes you to the top of a ridge with spectacular views of Denali and the surrounding river valley​.

DENALI ROAD CLOSURE: The Denali Park Road is closed at Mile 43. This closure is expected to remain in place until 2026. This means that all park services past mile 43 (Eielson Visitor Center, Igloo Campground, Wonder Lake) will be closed. All Transit Buses and Tour Buses are limited to mile 43. Additionally, the Denali Road Lottery is canceled until further notice. This is due to the Pretty Rocks Landslide.

Table of Contents

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Quick Guide to the Best Denali Hikes

The trails in the Denali Visitor Center, Entrance, Savage River, and Nenana River are all accessible to vehicles. 

Trail NameRegionDifficultyDistanceElevation
Horseshoe Lake TrailDenali EntranceModerate2 miles250 ft
Jonesville ConnectorDenali EntranceEasy0.3 mile (one way)0 ft
McKinley Station TrailDenali Visitor CenterModerate3.2 miles100 ft
Morino Loop ConnectorDenali Visitor CenterEasy0.2 mile (one way)0 ft
Mount Healy Overlook TrailDenali Visitor CenterStrenuous5.4 miles1,700 ft
Mountain Vista TrailDenali EntranceEasy0.6 mile50 ft
Oxbow LoopNenanna RiverEasy1.5 mile0 ft
Roadside Trail/Bike PathDenali Visitor CenterModerate3.6 miles350 ft
Rock Creek TrailDenali Visitor CenterModerate4.8 miles400 ft
Savage Alpine TrailSavage RiverStrenuous4 miles (one way)1,500 ft
Savage Cabin LoopSavage RiverEasy0.8 mile50 ft
Savage River LoopSavage RiverEasy2 miles2 miles
Spruce Forest Loop ConnectorDenali Visitor CenterEasy0.2 mile (one way)0 ft
Taiga TrailDenali Visitor CenterEasy1.5 mile75 ft
Triple Lakes TrailDenali Visitor CenterStrenuous9.5 miles (one way)1,000 ft

Map of Denali Hiking Trailheads

Map of Denali National Park Trailheads

Things to Know about Hiking in Denali National Park

  • Denali National Park is BEAR COUNTRY. The park is home to about 300 to 350 grizzly bears (and a handful of black bears along the south edge or the park). It is pretty safe to assume that any bear you see within the park is a grizzly bear. It is important that every member of your hiking party carry and know how to use bear spray.
    • Make noise while hiking to let the bear know you are coming.
    • Hike with a group.
    • Pay attention near berry patches and along streams.
    • If you see a bear, calmly back up.
  • Moose are dangerous, too. Moose might be silly-looking but they are dangerous animals if provoked. Personally, I’m more scared of a moose than a bear. Keep your distance if you see a moose and speak calmly to it.
  • Carry a map while hiking in Denali.
    • The Visitor Center trails can get a little confusing, and it is easy to end up on the wrong trail.

Planning to explore the Alaska National Parks? Download our FREE Alaska National Park Map HERE

A solitary figure in blue gazing at the snow-capped Denali peak, with a reflective pond and colorful tundra in the foreground.

What to pack for hiking in Denali?

No matter which season you visit, it’s so important to have the right clothing whilst visiting Denali National Park. 

Depending on when you visit be prepared for temperatures ranging from 30° to 80° F (-1° to 27° C). Due to the changes in temperature and how fast it can change due to altitude, it’s important to pack clothing for all climates. For this reason,  it’s best to choose clothes that are warm and quick drying. Avoid cotton clothes, and instead choose polypropylene, nylon, wool or fleece clothing.

As the weather can change so quickly, make sure you have a rain jacket and waterproof pants with you. Having a fleece to put underneath your jacket is also a must and if you choose to camp overnight, it’s best to pack thermal clothing, gloves and a hat. 

However, the most important thing to have is a sturdy pair of walking boots that are waterproof and fit well. The terrain in the National Park can be rugged and uneven, so it’s also important to make sure that they are a good make and of great quality. Another important item of clothing to remember is quality walking socks made of wool, as they are often thermal but also soft. There is nothing worse than spending hours a day walking with wet feet, which may cause your walking boots to rub.

Best Hikes in Denali National Park

A person stands triumphantly on a rugged mountain peak with arms raised, overlooking a breathtaking view of distant snowy mountains under a cloudy sky.

What to hike with a GUIDE?

Book a 5-hour guided hike with Denali Backcountry Guides and learn about Denali’s landscape from an expert. These guided hikes are between 5 and 7 miles and climb up to 1,500 ft.

Strenuous Hikes in Denali

1. Mount Healy Overlook Trail

Rating: 4.8 of 5 with over 2,300 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 4 – 5 hours

Two hikers resting on a rocky outcrop overlooking a panoramic view of winding rivers and mountain ranges in Denali National Park.
  • Distance: 2.7 mile / 4.3 km one way (5.4 mile / 8.6 km round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 1700 ft / 518 m
  • Type of Trail: out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Denali Visitor Center
  • Map: All Trails

The walk up to the overlook of Mount Healy is incredibly steep and long, so getting up there is no easy feat. The trail starts out on a gentle incline but at about 1.2 miles in you’ll find the trail starts to gain serious elevation. Throughout the last 1.5 miles, you will find yourself hiking the majority of the trail’s elevation.

However, once you reach the overlook, you will be rewarded with a 360° view of the park and surrounding area. This hike is one of the most iconic in Denali. If you’re feeling adventurous and are looking to try off-trail hiking, then you can venture further out from the rocky outcrop where this trail ends. Take your time; hiking along the ridges of Mount Healy can be very dangerous. This is one of the most difficult hikes in the Denali front country.

2. Savage Alpine Trail

Rating: 4.8 of 5 with over 1,500 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 2-3 hours

Hikers on a rugged trail with a sweeping view of the park road winding through the vast, verdant landscape of Denali National Park.
  • Distance: 4 miles / 6.4 km one way (8 mile / 12.58 km round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft / 457 m
  • Type of Trail: Out and Back
  • Trailhead Location: East Savage River parking area or Mountain Vista parking area
  • Map: All Trails

This is the BEST HIKE IN DENALI, by far. The full trail thaks you on an advneture through several of Denali’s biomes. This hike isn’t for the faint-hearted as although it is relatively short, it has a very steep gradient. Once you reach the top of the ridge, you will have breathtaking views over the Alaska Range, and if it’s clear enough you might even be able to spot Denali itself.

Whilst hiking on this trail you might spot wildlife such as Dall sheep and Arctic ground squirrels among others so keep your eyes peeled. It’s also important to note that bears do travel through this area so make sure you’re prepared and research bear safety within the National Park. Due to the incredible views and the challenge, the Savage Alpine Trail is one of the best hikes in Denali National Park.

It’s important to note that this trail is not a loop. It is best to park at Mountain Vista, and then catch the free shuttle up to Savage River. This way you can enjoy the hike without having to worry about any bus schedules.

3. Triple Lakes Trail

Rating: 4.7 of 5 with over 450 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 3-5 hours

Golden grasses by the calm waters of a reflective lake, with forested mountains rising in the background in Denali National Park.
  • Distance: 9.5 miles / 15.3 km one way (19 miles / 30.6 km round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 ft / 305 m
  • Type of Trail: out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Denali Visitor Center or Bridge
  • Map: All Trails

The Triple Lakes Trail is the longest hike in Denali National Park and boasts boreal forests and three beautiful alpine lakes. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow, as it is one of the most popular hikes in Denali. It eventually climbs up a ridge that gives stunning views of the surrounding snow-covered mountains and the National Park. Wildlife sightings along this trail are common, with the opportunity to spot moose, beavers, and even bears. The best time to do this hike is usually in the fall because the forests here take on their beautiful autumn colors, so make sure you bring your camera.

Hikers have a couple of options to hike Triple Lakes Trail. The first is to start at either end of the trail and hike to the other end and return. The second option is to get to either trailhead and hike half the trail and then return. The third option which is my preferred option is to park at one of the trailheads and then take the Denali Park Village Courtesy Shuttle to the other trailhead and hike back.

I usually park at the visitor center then take the shuttle to the Village trailhead. The Denali Park Village Shuttle drivers will usually stop at the trailhead but if they don’t its a short walk across the bridge. Here is the current shuttle schedule.

Moderate Hikes in Denali

4. Horseshoe Lake Trail

Rating: 4.7 of 5 with over 2,600 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 2 hours

A serene pond nestled among evergreen trees with a view of a meandering river in the lush landscape of Denali National Park.
  • Distance: 2 miles / 3.2 km round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 250 ft/ 76 m
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Trailhead Location: Denali Visitor Center
  • Map: All Trails

The Horseshoe Lake Trail is one of the easier trails located near the park entrance, as it is short and the terrain isn’t challenging. The trail takes you around the whole lake in a circular loop, and you will also get to walk along the Nenana River. As the elevation of the trail is only 250 ft this is also a family-friendly trail and is suitable for children.

Horseshoe Lake Trail can get pretty busy so if you are looking for a quieter experience, it’s best to start the hike early in the morning or later on in the evening. There is one important thing to remember when taking this hike, and that is safety precautions. The start of the trail runs alongside a railway track, and trains do run on this track so be mindful to keep your distance.

The Horseshoe Lake Trail is also popular with wildlife lovers as this area is home to Denali’s resident beavers. You might even get to spot moose in the summer months. 

5. McKinley Station Trail

Rating: 4.4 of 5 with over 300 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 1 – 2 hours

Two hikers with backpacks walking on a serene trail surrounded by dense greenery in Denali National Park.
  • Distance: 1.6 mile /2.6 km one way (3.2 mile / 5.2 round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 100 ft / 30 m
  • Type of Trail: out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Denali Visitor Center or Riley Creek Campground
  • Map: All Trails

The Mckinley Station Trail is located close to the Denali Visitor Center and is the perfect way to take in the area’s surrounding beauty. As you venture around this trail, you will wander through serene woodlands, along scenic streams, and you’ll get to see some of the most historic buildings in Denali. Some of the other sights you’ll get to see on this trail include the railroad trestle bridge, Riley Creek, Hines Creek, and the Silver Fox Ranch.

The elevation of this trail is only 100 ft making it another family-friendly trail. If you are looking to get a bit more information about the area, rangers lead hikes on this path during the on-season. They give hikers background information on the local area and its rich history, so it’s the perfect way to learn about the National Park.

6. Roadside Trail/Bike Path

Rating: 4.3 of 5 with over 150 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 1-2 hours

A large glacial erratic boulder resting beside a dirt hiking trail in the coniferous forest of Denali National Park.
Roadside Trail
  • Distance: 1.8 mile / 2.9 km one way (3.6 mile / 5.8 km round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 350 ft / 106 m
  • Type of Trail: out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Denali Visitor Center or the Park Headquarters
  • Map: All Trails
Bikeside Trail
  • Distance: 1.7 mile / 2.7 km one way (3.4 mile / 5.4 km round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 150 ft / 45 m
  • Type of Trail: out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Denali Visitor Center, the park entrance or Glitter Gulch.

The Roadside Trail and Bike Path are technically two different trails, although they do connect with each other. These two trails are the only two trails that allow dogs, but they must be on a leash at all times. The Roadside Trail follows along the Denali Park Road and is the perfect trail to do if you are wanting to see the sled dog demonstration at the kennels. As the name suggests the bike path is mainly for bicycles and is the only path in the park where you are allowed to cycle. The surface is well-compacted gravel so is perfect for cycling, and is relatively flat with not much of a gradient.

7. Rock Creek Trail

Rating: 4.6 of 5 with over 400 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 1-2 hours

Autumn colors beginning to show among the evergreens in Denali National Park, with distant mountains partially obscured by moody clouds.
  • Distance: 2.4 mile / 3.8 km one way (4.8 mile / 7.6 km round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 400 ft / 122 m
  • Type of Trail: out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Denali Visitor Center or the Park Headquarters
  • Map: All Trails

Rock Creek Trail is an out and back route and usually starts and ends at the Denali Visitor Center. However, if you prefer loop trails you have the option to hike back along the Roadside Trail and the Meadow View Trail for a change of scenery. As the trail isn’t that long, the Rock Creek trail is considered a family-friendly route.

However, some parts of the trail are considered to be quite strenuous as there is a 15% gradient in elevation during some parts. This trail connects Denali Visitor Center with the Sled Dog Kennels, so is another great trail to do if you are wanting to see the sled dog demonstration. However, make sure you give yourself at least 2 hours to hike before the demonstration begins. The highlight of this trail is the ridgeline views that you get of nearby Mount Healy on a clear day.

Easy Hikes in Denali

8. Jonesville Connector

Rating: 4.3 of 5 with over 50 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 15 – 30 minutes

Sun-dappled trail meandering through a dense forest of tall spruce and birch trees in Denali National Park, inviting peaceful exploration.
  • Distance: 0.3 mile / 0.5 km one way
  • Elevation Gain: 0 ft / 0 m
  • Type of Trail: out and back
  • Trailhead Location: The park entrance or Riley Creek Campground
  • Map: All Trails

There are four Connector trails in Denali National Park and the Jonesville Connector trail is one of the most useful. If you’re walking between the National Park and Glitter Gulch, this is the best route to take as it is very short. The trail also acts as a shortcut from Riley Creek Campground to the Canyon.

9. Morino Loop Connector

Rating: 4.5 of 5 with over 200 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 15 – 30 minutes

  • Distance: 0.2 mile / 0.3 km one way
  • Elevation Gain: 0 ft / 0 m
  • Type of Trail: loop (with McKinley Station Trail)
  • Trailhead Location: Denali Visitor Center or Mckinley Station Trailhead
  • Map: All Trails

The Morino Loop Connector trail is a short hike that takes you through spruce forest. This trail is used to connect with the McKinley Station Trail and is used to make the hike shorter.

10. Mountain Vista Trail

Rating: 4.3 of 5 with over 200 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 30 minutes

A walking trail in Denali National Park with an informative signboard, leading through a tranquil forest towards the open landscape.
  • Distance: 0.6 mile / 1 km roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 50 ft / 15 m
  • Type of Trail: loop
  • Trailhead Location: Mountain Vista parking area
  • Map: All Trails

This is one of the shortest trails in the national park and is located at mile 13 of Denali Park Road. Although only a short walk, this trail offers beautiful views of the Alaska Range and the alpine tundra below. If you are hiking this trail on a clear day, you also have the chance to see an incredible view of Denali Mountain.

If you don’t have much time in Denali National Park but are really wanting to get a clear view of Denali, then the Mountain Vista Trail is the one to do. Another interesting aspect of this trail is the signs that you come across. They provide information about Savage Camp and the first visitors that ever came to this park, just as tourism was starting to grow. Make sure you bring binoculars for this trail, as it also offers a great opportunity to see wildlife in the distance.

11. Oxbow Loop

Rating: 4.5 of 5 with over 50 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 40 minutes

Rocky creek flowing through a dense forest of young, slender trees under an overcast sky in Denali National Park.
  • Distance: 1.5 mile / 2.4 km roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft / 61 m
  • Type of Trail: loop
  • Trailhead Location: the Southern park entrance sign near Nenana River Bridge
  • Map: All Trails

You don’t tend to find the Oxbox Loop trail on any of the trail maps that are provided to you. It’s almost like a special secret trail, so if you’re hoping for a quiet experience while in the National Park, then this trail is for you. The hike is one of the easiest in Denali as it loops around an oxbow bend of the Nenana River, and there is hardly any elevation at all. It is also perfect for trail running as the surface isn’t uneven, and the trail is flat. The Oxbow Loop trail starts and ends on Highway 3, which is located about 7 miles south of the National Park entrance.

12. Savage Cabin Loop

Rating: 4.3 of 5 with over 40 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 1 hour

A rustic log cabin nestled among the dense greenery of a serene forest in Denali National Park, under a clear sky.
  • Distance: 0.8 mile/1.3 km roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 50 ft / 15 m
  • Type of Trail: loop
  • Trailhead Location: Savage Cabin parking area
  • Map: All Trails

The Savage Cabin Loop is a trail mainly used if you are on one of the Denali Natural History bus tours. This is because these tours make a stop off at Savage Cabin, and this is the trail that leads to it. They go through the history of the area before you head out onto the trail, but there are signs along the way if you aren’t on a tour.

The signs share the story of early rangers and how they worked together with their dog sled teams. The cabin is actually still used by modern rangers to patrol the park, especially in winter when dog sled teams are used. Bears also frequent this area so look out for prints or fresh scat along the trail.

13. Savage River Loop

Rating: 4.6 of 5 with over 900 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 1 – 2 hours

A turbulent river winds through a colorful autumn landscape with a snow-capped mountain shrouded in clouds in the backdrop in Denali National Park.
  • Distance: 2 mile / 3.2 km roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 364 ft / 111 m
  • Type of Trail: loop
  • Trailhead Location: Savage River parking area
  • Map: All Trails

The Savage River Loop is known to be one of the best hikes in Denali National Park as it’s easy and quiet. On this trail, you will follow the Savage River downstream through a canyon and then cross over the river by footbridge to return back to Denali Park Road. This trail is one of the most family-friendly trails in the National Park and offers picturesque views of the beautiful alpine scenery.

As it’s only a short hike, it is the perfect one to choose if you are feeling a little strapped for time but still want to see the best of Denali. However, the trail can get busy during peak season, so expect to see quite a lot of people on your hike. The Savage River Loop trail also offers great opportunities to see wildlife, including caribou, bears, Dall sheep, marmots and ground squirrels.

14. Spruce Forest Loop Connector

Rating: 4.2 of 5 with over 40 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 15 – 30 minutes

Back view of a couple walking down a peaceful gravel path in Denali National Park, surrounded by dense green foliage.
  • Distance: 0.2 mile / 0.3 km
  • Elevation Gain: 0 ft / 0 m
  • Type of Trail: Loop (with McKinley Station)
  • Trailhead Location: Denali Visitor Center or McKinley Station Trailhead
  • Map: All Trails

The Spruce Forest Loop Connector is a short trail that connects with the McKinley Station trail. As the name suggests this connector trail takes you through a stunning spruce forest and is worth the walk.

15. Taiga Trail

Rating: 4.3 of 5 with over 90 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 1 – 2 hours

A shaded hiking path in Denali National Park, flanked by tall trees, with sunlight filtering through the branches.
  • Distance: 1.5 mile / 2.4 km one way (3 mile / 4.8 km round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 75 ft / 23 m
  • Type of Trail: out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Denali Visitor Center or the Railroad crossing
  • Map: All Trails

The Taiga Trail is one of the easiest trails in the park, and it also acts as a connector to other popular trails in Denali National Park. If you start from Denali Visitor Center you can then use the Taiga Trail to access Rock Creek Trail, Mount Healy Overlook, and Horseshoe Lake Trail.

The word ‘Taiga’ is a Russian-derived word for ‘boreal forest’ or ‘snow forest’ which are dominant throughout Alaska. The trail itself is relatively flat and takes you through a beautiful stretch of woodland filled with pine, spruce and larch trees. If you’re lucky you might even get to spot some wildlife including moose, mountain goats, and even bears. Don’t approach any of the wildlife and make sure you have your bear spray with you as a precaution.

Frequently Asked Questions about Denali Trails

Why doesn’t Denali National Park have a lot of hiking trails?

Denali National Park like all Alaskan National Park has limited development and Alaska’s parks, it is the most developed of Alaska’s park. Building things in Alaska is difficult and expensive. Plus Alaska has this thing called permafrost. Permafrost is this layer of frozen ground that never unfreezes. It’s a pain in the but when building things. When it gets warm it gets mushy and things sink into it. Plus visitors can’t explore more than 15 miles of the park road on their own (unless its the Denali Road Lottery) so adding more trails wouldn’t add much to the visitor experience along with what they can access without the bus system.

When is the best time to visit Denali National Park?

If you’re hiking in Denali National Park then the best time to visit is between May and September. The weather is known to be pleasant and there are plenty of shuttle buses that can journey you to and from trailheads. However the months of June, July, and August are known to be busy, so if you are looking for a bit of peace out on the trails then visiting in May or September may be best. 

Which hikes in Denali have the best views?

There are plenty of hikes in Denali National Park that offer incredible views. Some of the most popular hikes with beautiful views include Mount Healy Overlook Trail, the Thorofare Ridge Trail, the Savage Alpine Trail, and the Triple Lakes Trail.

What is the best hike in Denali?

Personally, I love Savage Alpine Trail when the mountain is out. I love hiking along that ridge when the mountain is out.

What type of widlife might I see?

Although hiking is one of the most popular activities to do in Denali National Park, it is also one of the best places to spot wildlife. The National Park was specifically created to protect the wildlife living in the area.  People travel far and wide to catch a glimpse of the nature found here. 

The most iconic wildlife in Denali includes grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou, and Dall sheep. If you’re lucky and spend a lot of time exploring the National Park, you might get to spot some of these large mammals. However, the most common sightings are other smaller mammals including foxes, marmots, and red squirrels. 

If you are an avid birdwatcher, then Denali National Park is a great place to visit. The largest birds found here are the Golden Eagle and Bald Eagle. They are truly a sight to see as they soar through the sky. 

A majestic Dall sheep with curved horns standing amidst vibrant yellow and red autumn vegetation in Denali National Park.

Where can I camp?

Denali National Park has six different campgrounds along the park road. Camping in Denali is a great way to spend time in the park. You can drive to several of the campground (Riley Creek, Savage River, Sanctuary Campground and Teklanika.) The other campground are only accessible via the camper buses.

Is Denali good for hiking?

Denali National Park is a great place for hiking as it offers something for everyone. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced hiker, there are plenty of different trail options across the national park. The trails also vary greatly in length so even if you are only staying in the national park for a couple of hours, you have the chance to try out one of the shorter hikes.

Hiking in Denali National Park is a bucket list experience for sure, and one not to be missed. It is a destination that you are likely to never forget, and one you will want to revisit again and again. Denali offers a pristine wilderness which many other popular hiking destinations fail to achieve. 

Can I go off-trail hiking in Denali?

Yes, you can. Denali is one of the few national parks where off-trail hiking is encouraged and you are welcome to hike anywhere you would like within the Denali Wilderness. Please note that occasionally areas will be closed to hiking. Wilderness areas are found outside the first 15 miles of the park road.

Guide to the Denali Hikes After Mile 43

Road access to these hikes is currently closed due to the Pretty Rocks Landslide. Access is expected to be restored summer of 2026 (I have my doubts about this estimate.) It is possible to access some of these hike if you are traveling to one of the Denali Lodges in the Katishina Area.

Quick Guide to the Closed Denali Hiking Trails.

Trail NameRegionDifficultyDistanceElevation
Gorge Creek TrailEielson Visitor CenterStrenuous4.8 miles549 ft
Eielson Alpine TrailEielson Visitor CenterStrenuous2.2 miles1,082 ft
McKinley Bar TrailWonder LakeModerate4.8 miles486 ft
Thorofare Ridge TrailEielson Visitor CenterStrenuous2 miles1,000 ft
Tundra LoopEielson Visitor CenterEasy0.3 mile52 ft

Best Hikes in Denali National Park After Mile 43

Strenuous Hikes in Denali

17. Gorge Creek Trail

Rating: 4.4 of 5 with over 10 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 1.5-2 hours

Hikers silhouetted against the sky on a grassy ridge with the expansive mountain range of Denali National Park in the background.
  • Distance: 2.4 mile / 3.9 km one way (4.8 mile/ 7.8 km round trip)
  • Elevation Gain:  549 ft / 182 m
  • Type of Trail: out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Eielson Visitor Center
  • Map: All Trails

The Gorge Creek Trail starts from the Eielson Visitor Center and heads down to Gorge Creek, via switchbacks along the hillside. The journey down to the creek can be tricky, as it is a steep descent and the trail is rocky and unstable underfoot. Some people even choose to use trekking poles in the National Park when taking on these types of trails.

During this hike you will get stunning views of Denali and the Alaska Range, making it one of the best hikes in Denali for the views. If you are hiking along this trail in July, it is also a great spot to go blueberry picking. From the end of the hike, you can venture out if you want to head off-trail. From here you will come across the backcountry camping units within Denali National Park.

17. Thorofare Ridge Trail (Eielson Alpine Trail)

Rating: 4.8 of 5 with over 115 reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 1 – 2 hours

A group of hikers descending a winding dirt path through vibrant, autumn-colored tundra with majestic mountains ahead in Denali National Park.
  • Distance: 2.2 mile / 3.5 km
  • Elevation Gain:  1,082 ft / 303 m
  • Type of Trail: out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Eielson Visitor Center
  • Map: All Trails

This strenuous trail climbs steeply from the Eielson Visitor Center. It’s a demanding hike due to its sharp elevation gain and often unpredictable weather conditions. As you ascend, the landscape transforms dramatically. The lower sections of the trail meander through lush alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers and the occasional grazing caribou. As you climb higher, the vegetation becomes sparse, giving way to rocky outcrops and stunning panoramic views.

The most striking feature of this hike is undoubtedly the view of Denali itself. On clear days, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the mountain, its snow-capped peak towering above the Alaska Range. The trail also offers a sweeping view of Denali National Park, including glimpses of glaciers in the distance.

Moderate Hikes in Denali

18. McKinley Bar Trail

Rating: XXX of 5 with over XXX reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 2 – 3 hours

A straight path leading through a tall, skinny forest under a clear blue sky in the wilderness of Denali National Park.
  • Distance: 2.4 mile/ 3.9 km one way (4.8 mile / 7.8 km round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 486 ft /148 m
  • Type of Trail:  out and back
  • Trailhead Location: The beginning of the road to Wonder Lake Campground
  • Map: All Trails

McKinley Bar Trail is another great hike to do whilst trekking through Denali National Park. You will hike through an alpine creek, dense pine forests, and along the stunning Wonder Lake before emerging at McKinley River. When walking along the river, you will be treated to a beautiful view of Denali Mountain and the surrounding Alaska Range if it’s a clear day.

If you explore the mudflats of the McKinley River you might even get to see bear, wolf and moose prints. Just avoid walking on there yourself, as the mudflats are deep and you can sink pretty far. The McKinley Bar Trail is definitely one of the best hikes in Denali National Park if you are looking for beautiful views. However, it’s important to note that there isn’t a lot of shade on this hike, so it can get pretty warm on a hot day.

Easy Hikes in Denali

19. Tundra Loop

Rating: XXX of 5 with over XXX reviews ⭐ Estimated Hiking Time: 15 minutes

A view of an old bus and tourists on a distant trail, set against the backdrop of green rolling hills under a blue sky in Denali National Park.
  • Distance: 0.3 mile / 0.5 km roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 52 ft / 16 m
  • Type of Trail: loop
  • Trailhead Location: Eielson Visitor Center
  • Map: All Trails

If you are wanting to stretch your legs, the Tundra Loop Trail is a great option. It is only a short walk, but still offers great views of Denali National Park and its Alpine tundra. If you hike this trail in the summer you will be surrounded by beautiful wildflowers, and you might even get to spot Arctic ground squirrels. If you are looking for more information about this area, rangers also lead guided hikes along this route daily during peak season. Bears are also known to frequent this area so keep your eyes peeled.

Final Thoughts on Denali Hiking Trails.

We hope this article has encouraged you to try some of the beautiful trails this National Park has to offer, so you can experience the mesmerizing scenery for yourself. Which is your favorite hike in Denali National Park? If it isn’t on this list, then leave a comment below to inspire other hikers or join us in talking about all things National Parks in our National Park Trip Planning Community.

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Pin for Later: The 19 ABSOLUTE Best Hikes in Denali National Park for 2024

Want to see more of Denali National Park than just a bus tour? Click HERE to find out about the best hikes in Denali National Park. We break down each of Denali's hikes.
Hi, I'm Jennifer!

Welcome to the wonderful world of National Parks. I'm here to help you plan your NEXT amazing adventure through the United States National Parks and beyond. I want the national parks to be accessible to all.

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