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Alpine Trail – Denali National Park
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Overview
Location

Denali National Park, Alaska

Sights

Denali, wildlife, Eilson Visitor Center

Distance

About 1.6 miles roundtrip

Parking Lot Elevation

3770 ft

Summit Elevation

4781 ft

Elevation Gain/Loss

About 1,000 feet

Time Required

About 1-3 hours depending on your speed

Pets

Not allowed

Fees

Yes. You will need to pay the shuttle ticket fees and park entrances fees

Water Info

Bring 1-2 liters of water

Best Season

Summer, Fall

Trail Condition

Great easy to follow dirt/gravel trail

Restrooms

At Eilson Visitor Center

Visitor Center

Yes. Eilson Visitor Center

Camping

Yes. Only in the backcountry with a permit

Food

Bring meals and snacks as needed. There are no food options out at Eilson.

Equipment

Good hiking shoes, camera, bear spray (optional) binoculars, bag for food and water.

GPS Coordinates:

AlpineTrailhead: 63.43165, -150.31099
End of Trail: 63.4368, -150.322

Trail Map


Driving Directions

Drive to the Denali National Park Wilderness Access Center where you will need to purchase a shuttle bus ticket to Eilson Visitor Center where the Alpine Trail is located.  The shuttles make stops about every 90 minutes for restroom breaks.  It is about a 3 1/2 hour drive to Eilson Visitor Center.

The Trail:

The Alpine Trail is located just above Eilson Visitor Center in Denali National Park.  The only way to get here is by using the National Park Shuttle System.  This is a great hike that offers absolutely incredible views of Denali (the mountain).   This is one of the few maintained trails in Denali National Park and it is not too difficult.

Note: please use caution in this area as you are in prime bear habitat (please see pictures below).

The trail starts off above the Eilson Visitor Center and winds around blueberry and huckleberry bushes for just about the entire length of the trail.  I hiked this in late summer so there were endless berries to be picked and believe me, I stuffed my face!

Alpine Trail Denali National Park Alpine Trail Denali National Park

Looking up towards the top where the trail takes you.

Alpine Trail Denali National Park

The trail will quickly rise in elevation but I just took my time and enjoyed the scenery and Denali.  The area surrounding Eilson is some of my favorite I have ever seen because it has a beauty that is just surreal and cannot be captured on film.

Alpine Trail Denali National Park

The trail does make a few switchbacks which makes it easier to hike.

Alpine Trail Denali National Park

When I was just about to the top I found a fat ground squirrel begging for crumbs but nope!

Alpine Trail Denali National Park Alpine Trail Denali National Park

Alpine Trail Denali National Park

Just near the top you will notice that the tundra completely changes and you will soon leave the meadows of blueberries and hike on very short grasses and rock.

Alpine Trail Denali National Park

You will know when the trail ends because you will come to this sign.

Alpine Trail Denali National Park

I spent about an hour on top of the mountain (or is it hill??) exploring around and seeing all there is to see.  There are a few short trails that continue to the west to a better vantage point to view Denali.  I waited for a good 15 minutes to see if the clouds would clear up but they never did – I never got a good shot of The Mountain on this trip.

You can see Eilson Visitor Center below

You can see Eilson Visitor Center below

Alpine Trail Denali National Park Alpine Trail Denali National Park Alpine Trail Denali National Park

Looking into Kantishna

Looking into Kantishna

Alpine Trail Denali National Park

Denali would be in the center of this picture if there were no clouds

Denali would be in the center of this picture if there were no clouds

The Return:

Hike back down the same trail.

Alpine Trail Denali National Park Alpine Trail Denali National Park

Checking out the visitor center

Checking out the visitor center

Right when I got back from the Alpine Trail I noticed a few park rangers trying to get everyone away from the road.  I figured it was a bear coming through because they only do this sort of thing if there are bears or other large animals that could threaten the safety of guests.

I snapped this photo before I went inside the visitor center.

This bear was scouring the area for berries and bugs (and maybe unsuspecting humans!)

This bear was scouring the area for berries and bugs (and maybe unsuspecting humans!)

Personal Thoughts:

I love visiting Denali National Park and coming out to Eilson Visitor Center is why I take the park shuttles.  There are endless opportunities for hiking and exploring and doing the Alpine Trail is just a teaser to what you could experience if you go off the trail…Trek Planner Logo

Ratings (out of 10)
Trek Planner Rating
User Rating
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Difficulty
3.0
3.2
Technicality
1.5
1.5
Enjoyment
6.5
7.0
The Bottom Line

Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek. If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

6.7
Trek Planner Rating
3.9
User Rating
1 rating
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About The Author
Jeff Johnson
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you! JeffTJohnson@ymail.com

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