Up here in Alaska, we’re definitely not short of space. The Denali National Park and Preserve is no exception, located roughly a two-hour drive from Fairbanks. With over 6 million acres to explore, the park has many different trails to suit a wide range of hiking abilities. In this short guide, we’ll cover some of the best-marked trails in the area. 

1. Horseshoe Lake Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate (250 ft. elevation)
  • Distance: 2-4 miles 
  • Hike type: Loop
  • Trailhead: Denali Visitor Center area
  • Access: Mile 1 Denali Park Road at the railroad crossing. Park across from the Denali Visitor Center or behind the Denali Visitor Center.

This trail is a fantastic place to start for those who already have a taste for hiking. It’s a beautiful path that follows the edge of the lake and features fantastic views the whole way. Animal lovers will appreciate the views of beavers at work on an impressively large dam. The trail is very popular, particularly during the summer months. 

2. Mount Healy Overlook TrailPeople hiking on a trail in the Alaska Range

  • Difficulty: Strenuous (1,700 ft. elevation)
  • Distance: 2.7 miles 
  • Hike Type: One-way
  • Trailhead: Off the Taiga Trail, near the Denali Visitor Center
  • Access: Follow the Taiga Trail for half a mile.

There and back, you’ll do around five miles, but the panoramic views over the Nenana River valley are well worth it! As the area's steepest trail, it’ll definitely get your legs working. Many hikers choose to continue on to traverse the ridges of Mt. Healy. Otherwise, you can return the same way you came.

3. Savage Alpine Trail

  • Difficulty: Strenuous (1,500 ft. elevation) 
  • Distance: 4 miles 
  • Hike Type: One-way
  • Trailhead: East Savage River parking area or Mountain Vista parking area. The trail connects the two parking areas.
  • Access: Take the shuttle from the Denali Visitor Center to either starting location or park your car in one and take the shuttle back to the other to collect it. Limited parking is available.

Although this is one of the more strenuous trails in Denali, don’t let the name put you off! Savage Alpine offers dramatic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. As one of the best hikes in Denali National Park, it enjoys a variety of wildlife spotting opportunities and some of the mountain's best views. 

4. Savage River Loop TrailFour people walking on a trail next to a river

  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Distance: 2 miles 
  • Hike type: Loop
  • Trailhead: Mile 15 on Denali Park Road
  • Access: Via shuttle from the Denali Visitor Center or by car. Limited parking available.

Following the river, this trail has almost no elevation, and the loop can be completed in about an hour. Regularly considered one of the best day hikes in Denali National Park, the Savage River Loop is perfect for families of all ages and is great for getting little ones excited about the potential of hiking trails. Kids will love seeing the herds of dall sheep as well as marmots, pika, hares, and other critters along the way. This first half mile of this trail is wheelchair accessible. 

Exploring Denali’s Network of Trails

Denali National Park offers a vast array of trails beyond what we've covered here, each promising its own unique adventures and breathtaking views. Whether you're looking for a leisurely hike or a challenging trek, you'll find plenty of options to suit your preferences. Many of the trails near the Denali Visitor Center are also accessible during the winter months. You can event visit the Murie Science and Learning Center to borrow snowshoes. 

For more information on the many trails available or to plan your hiking journey, visit Denali’s hiking page or check out their detailed trail map. Don't miss the opportunity to experience the natural beauty and awe-inspiring landscapes that Denali has to offer!

Two people walking on a snowy trail in Denali National Park