Denali National Park, Alaska
Denali National Park, Mt. Healy, wildlife
About 2.6 miles one way
About 2-3 hours roundtrip
Bring 2 liters of water
Open year round
Lots of shade along the way
Dirt and gravel mix
Yes, at visitor center
Bring meals and snacks as needed
Good hiking shoes, hiking poles are recommended, backpack for food and water, hat, sunglasses, rain jacket
Horseshoe Lake/Mt. Healy Overlook Trailhead: 63°44’15.24″N, 148°54’54.46″W
Visitor Center Trailhead: 63°43’49.51″N, 148°55’9.65″W
Mt. Healy Overlook: 63°44’33.28″N, 148°57’13.40″W
The Mt. Healy Overlook is located in the front country (as opposed to back country) of Denali National Park. It is rated moderate to strenuous because it is very steep and gains lots of elevation fast.
This is one of the few trails that are maintained by the park service. If you are not aware, Denali National Park does not have any trails for you to hike on except for a few, and the Mt. Healy Overlook is one of those.
There are several places where you could start this trail. You could begin at the railroad crossing for the Horseshoe Lake trail head or you could start at the Denali National Park Visitor Center. I started this trail from the Horseshoe Lake trail head because that is where the shuttle dropped me off.
For Guests staying at the Princess Lodge or McKinley Chalet
If you are a guest staying at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge or the McKinley Chalet Resort, there is a courtesy shuttle service to and from the park. The Denali Park Shuttle picks up at the Denali Princess Lodge (or McKinley Chalet Resort), makes a stop at the Wilderness Access Center, makes another stop at the Horseshoe Lake/Mt. Healy Overlook trailheads then stops at the Denali National Park Visitor Center then heads back to the lodge. These shuttles run twice an hour for a good chunk of the day. Inquire at the Front/Tour Desks for exact shuttle times and schedules. I would highly recommend you use this complimentary shuttle and go on a hike in the park if you have extra time.
Also, always remember that you are travelling in bear, moose and other large animal territory. You never know when a moose or bear will be around the corner so please always be prepared and stay alert for any animal signs.
Back to the trek…
If you hike this trail starting from the visitor center, simply start on Taiga trail, wind around the forest and follow the signs pointing you to the Mt. Healy Overlook. If you start from the Horseshoe Lake trail, turn left on the Taiga Trail which winds around the forest a little bit until you come to the Mt. Healy Overlook trail start.
I started from the Horseshoe Lake trail head. You will be hiking on the Taiga Trail for about 1/2 mile until you come to the Mt. Healy Overlook start.
Here is the start of the Overlook trail (pictured below).
The trail is maintained and is on a dirt/gravel path for the entire length of the hike. There is a bench you can rest on about 1/4 of a mile into the hike. This hike started out not too steep then it started to really climb in elevation just passed the bench.
This hike was somewhat difficult for me as I haven’t been hiking in more than a month but I just took a very steady pace and I ended up not being as sore as I thought I would.
At the beginning you will be engulfed in trees and bushes making it almost impossible to really gauge where you are located. But, as you gain elevation you will have several occasions where you can get amazing views of the area, like the picture below.
There are tons of wildflowers to see along the way!
Keep hiking up and soon you will be above the timberline where the views get even more incredible!
You can just barely see the two glacier erratics that are on the other side of the valley. The hike to the erratics is also an incredible hike.
Once you are nearly above the timberline you will come to many switchbacks until you are at the top. Again, just keep a steady pace and you won’t wear yourself out.
Finally! You made it to the top! The Overlook is, well, an overlook to the Mt. Healy ridgeline and Denali. You can see all of the hotels and shops (Glitter Gulch), the Parks Highway, the train tracks and many of the national park buildings.
You could continue the hike up to the summit of Mt. Healy but many people simply hike to this point then head back down. Click the link to keep hiking up to Mt. Healy. It is very long and difficult but it is also a great hike.
Head back down the same way.
This is a popular hike and doesn’t take that much time. If you are staying in the area and have 2-3 hours to spare then you should do this hike to the Mt. Healy Overlook.