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Savage River – Denali National Park Alaska
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Overview
Location

Denali National Park – Denali, Alaska

Sights

Wildlife, Savage River, beautiful scenery

Distance

It is about 1.70 miles round trip.

Parking Lot Elevation

2577 ft

Summit Elevation

2609 ft (at the bridge)

Elevation Gain/Loss

32 ft

Time Required

1+ hours

Pets

Allowed on trail only.

Fees

No fees.

Water Info

Bring a bottle of water. You will be hiking right next to Savage River.

Best Season

Summer and fall.

Hours

Open year round and all times of day and night.

Sun Exposure

Not too many tall trees along this trail

Trail Condition

Trail is mostly gravel and dirt path that is wide, clear, and flat.

Restrooms

Yes, located at both parking lots.

Visitor Center

Yes, at park entrance.

Camping

Savage Campground at mile 13. There are camping fees.

Food

Bring snacks – there are picnic benches in parking lots.

Equipment

Bring camera and jacket

Family Friendly?

yes

GPS Coordinates

Parking Lot East:  63° 44.384’N, 149° 17.495’W
Parking Lot West: 63° 44.400’N, 149° 17.646’W
Savage River Bridge: 63° 45.084’N, 149° 17.489’W
Side Trek – Savage Rock: 63° 44.409’N, 149° 17.321’W

Trail Map

Driving Directions:

The Trail:

Savage River east parking lot

Savage River east parking lot

Savage River is at the end of the “public access road” in Denali National Park.  This means that the public can drive their own cars up to this point but any farther they would have to take one of the buses.  Savage River has a loop trail and is a beautiful hike that is quite popular.

The Savage River Trail is accessed at about the 15 mile marker in Denali National Park.  There are parking lots on either side of the river and even though there is a ranger station blocking access to the other side if you stop and ask if you can park at the west parking lot they will let you.

Both parking lots (east and west) have bathrooms (pit style) and picnic benches.  I usually start hiking on the east side and then just circle around back to where I parked but it really doesn’t matter.

Savage RIver

Savage River Trail

Savage River Trail

The trail is easy to see and follow.  It is dirt and gravel and you will have no trouble seeing where you are going.

You will be hiking right next to Savage River for the entire time.  The trail makes a loop with a wooden bridge at the halfway point.

Savage River Trail - marmot

Savage River Trail – marmot

The many times that I have hiked this trail I usually see wildlife. I have seen ptarmigan, hoary marmots, moose, caribou and even bears.   Just keep your distance from these animals and they won’t bother with you as you enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Savage RIver Savage RIver

Savage River Bridge

Savage River Bridge

Savage RIver IMG_2885 Savage RIver

The bridge is basically the half way point between the trail.  Here is where you can cross over or turn back the same way you came.  There are other trails near the bridge that lead to various spots but for the most part, they don’t go anywhere.

Savage River

Savage River

Savage River

Savage River Trail – a truly beautiful place to experience

I enjoy hiking on this trail in autumn.  The leaves are changing and the tundra is changing colors too.  It is during this time that I tend to see more animals.

Savage RIver


Savage River tundra close-up

Savage River tundra close-up

Here is a close up picture of the tundra in the Savage River area.  It is quite incredible to see all the little plants and insects that keep the tundra alive and active.

A great place for a family hike

A great place for a family hike

You will probably see wildlife in this area

The Savage River hike is great at all times of the day!

The trail winds around back the west side and comes back to the parking lot.  The trail on the west side is a little bit easier to hike because the east side trail tends to wind up and down more.  Either way you start you will enjoy your hike on this trail.

Savage RIver

Savage River has some green trails

Savage River panorama – you can see Savage Rock sticking out in the center and left

The Return:

Head back to your car where ever you left it.

Personal Thoughts:

Ever since I started my summer job in Alaska back in 2009 I have always enjoyed coming to Savage River to hike around.  It is a beautiful place and fun hike if you have some extra time.  I have heard stories about people seeing bears and moose get in fights in this area.  I have yet to see anything so dramatic but I enjoy this area because it is easy to get to and I always have a great time when I am there.

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OPTIONAL SIDE TREK

Savage Rock

Savage Rock

 

Savage Rock is accessed on the east side parking lot.  The trail head is right next to the restrooms and it goes straight up to the massive rocks just above the parking lot.  It offers a great overlook of the valley.

This Side Trek takes an additional 1/2+ hour to complete.

Savage Rock:  63° 44.409’N, 149° 17.321’W

 

Ratings (out of 10)
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User Rating
Rate Here
Difficulty
3.0
4.0
Technicality
1.0
1.0
Enjoyment
5.0
6.0
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.

5.5
Trek Planner Rating
3.7
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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[…] If you only have a few hours to spend then you might want to consider taking a shuttle bus into the park to see the park’s Sled Dog demonstration or maybe a quick hike at Savage River. […]