Mt. McKinley Lodge Walking Trails

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Check out the McKinley Walking Map.

Hill Trail

1.2 miles / 1.7 km

The Hill Trail is the most strenuous trail of the four at the lodge, with a steep incline at the beginning. It also has some of the most scenic overlooks. From the front door of the lodge, turn to the left and head clockwise on the lodge road. Take the path up the hill to the “Moose” overlook, where you’ll find a view of the Alaska Range and Denali (on clear days). Moose (alces alces) can be spotted along the river bottoms to Curry Ridge, wandering and eating. Their primary food source is willow trees, more like shrubs at this latitude, which they graze on year round.

Continue up the hill to the path leading to the “Grizzly Bear” overlook. Here, you will find a higher and more impressive view of the mountains and the Chulitna River. The Chulitna River is one of the main drainages coming off the south face of Denali and feeds into the Susitna near Talkeetna. Popular with rafters and fishermen, there are access points along the George Parks Highway.

You’ll continue down the trail to the “Winged” overlook, where you will have a good view of the lodge complex and the mountains. One hundred and thirty one birds have been identified in the area, and the Tokositna River lowland (10 miles west of the lodge) provides important habitat for nesting and fledging birds. This area also has several active bald eagle nests. The trail comes to an end as you walk down the opposite side of the hill where you will reach the road going to the lodge. Turn right and follow the road to the lodge.

Creek Overlook Path

1/2 mile / 3/4 km

Branching off from the Hill Trail, this is a rolling walk along the paved lodge entrance road. You’ll travel through shrubs and tundra before reaching a pull out, where the trail ends. From here, you’ll have views of the creek and lodge in one direction and in the other direction (on clear days) Denali. If the mountain is out, this is a great destination. If you want more exercise, you can continue down the road, or head back towards the Hill Trail.

South Loop Trail

1/2 mile / 3/4 km

Learn about the diverse plant life of Interior Alaska, and the traditional uses of the flora of the Interior, on this easy walking trail. Soak up the beauty of the plants of the Alaska wilderness and learn about plants from interpretive placards. 25 different plants, from berries to mushrooms to trees, are marked.

The trail is located near building 17. To get to the trail from the lodge head out the front doors and turn right on the lodge road. You will walk by the parking lots located on your right until you see building 17 (two–story building on the right hand side). Next walk towards building 17, but before arriving at the building stay right and the trailhead will be found at the corner of the road, which leads behind building 17.

The trail is only 1/2 mile (three quarters of a kilometer) and follows fairly even terrain (only one very short steep incline). Interpretive signs tell the stories of these plants, their food and medicinal uses. The Dena’ina (Tanaina) Athabascans inhabited this area, and it is their utilization of the local flora that is presented. Some of the plants you may see on this trail include: shelf mushrooms, high-bush cranberries, club moss, dwarf dogwood, old man’s beard lichen, and several varieties of fern. Bring your camera, and use the “macro” setting for great shots of these diverse and beautiful plants.

Lodge Trail

1/2 mile / 3/4 km

Just off the back of the lodge, this is an easy stroll on a gravel walking trail. It’s the perfect, relaxing walk before or after a meal at the lodge. You’ll have filtered views of the river, and the ground is covered in wildflowers, which bloom in June and July. The land hasn’t been developed here, so you can get a feel for what the tundra is really like, then head up to the lodge’s deck for a drink or meal!