Talkeetna & Denali State Park Trails
For exploration on foot, Talkeetna and the surrounding wilderness have something for everyone. You can take a short walk through the Historic District where you can shop, dine, or have a drink in buildings from the town's mining and railroad past. There are other short walks nearby, or take a guided or self-guided hike on Talkeetna's best trail at Talkeetna Lakes Park.
For more spectacular scenery, more wildlife, and a phenomenal trail system, head an hour north to Denali State Park for guided or self-guided hikes and walks. The South Denali area is best known for spectacular views of Denali, abundant wildlife, and the world’s northernmost boreal forest. The combination of rich soils, healthy salmon runs, and a mild climate make the South Denali area particularly lush and fertile. The woods overflow with wildflowers, berries, and oversized plants. Lowland trails take you along salmon streams where bears feed, crystal-clear lakes where loons and Trumpeter Swans nest, and mossy old-growth forest.
Parks & Trails
Where else can you walk to the end of Main Street and find yourself at the confluence of three wild rivers, overlooking a 20,000-foot peak? Close to downtown, this large, river-centered park offers wide open, untouched spaces, along with great panoramic view of the Alaska Range.
This recreation area is just a mile and a half from town, but it feels like wilderness — with deep woods and several lakes, it’s a great place to hike, run, canoe, fish, or look for wildlife. Watch for otters, beavers, bears, foxes, moose, and more than 100 species of birds, including raptors and loons. The park’s best feature is a nicely groomed 3.5‑mile walking trail around X Lake through lush old-growth forest. Custom log benches are a nice… ...more
Stand on the beach at Talkeetna Riverfront Park and you may notice folks fishing on the point across the river. You can get there too. Start by walking up the Talkeetna river and crossing over the massive railroad bridge. Imagine yourself back in the 1920s; Talkeetna was the most populous city in Alaska, and the Railroad commission chose it to be the headquarters for building the rail line between Seward and Anchorage.
Before you get to town, you’ll get your first glimpse of Denali (Mt. McKinley). About 13 miles down the Talkeetna Spur Road just across from the entrance to the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, there’s a pull-out on the left. You’ll get great views with the Susitna River and foothills in the foreground. The peaks in the foreground are 3,000 – 4,000 feet high, roughly the vertical gain of most ski resorts in the American West. And behind them looms Denali, ...more
Talkeetna may have one of Alaska’s best adult playgrounds, as it hosts mountain climbers and adventurers from all over the world, but that doesn’t mean kids don’t fit in, too. A group of mothers got together in 2008 and built this playground, worthy of a frontier town. Constructed from rough-hewn timbers, the play area incorporates mazes, cabins, swings, slides, and even art from local children.
Get a real taste of Talkeetna by walking a full loop around town. Start by strolling along the Susitna River (downstream) until you come to the end of the village airstrip. Then walk up D Street, which will bring you right back to Main Street. It’s a popular route, so in the summer you may well see people camping, while in the winter people come here for snowshoeing, skiing, dog mushing, and snowmachining.
Denali State Park Trails
During periods of clear weather, this route through Denali State Park offers similar terrain and scenery to Denali National Park — including unparalleled views of Denali — without the cumbersome permitting process. This trail system offers many options for starting and ending points, as there are four trailheads along its length.
This is the southernmost trail that leads to Kesugi Ridge. On average, it takes a hiker 4 hours to get above the treeline. This trail is often closed due to flooding as well as bear activity for the safety of its hikers. Please check with Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources to make sure that the trail is open to hikers before starting this trip.
This trail follows Troublesome Creek .3 miles down to where it enters the broad, glacial gravel bar of the Chulitan River. Marvel at the Ent-like Grandaddy Cottonwood, just five minutes down the trail. The trail’s end has been swept away by floods, so it can be confusing, but the adventurous can keep going onto the Chulitna’s gravel bar to look for wildlife, tracks, or views of Denali. The large-leaved plants along the trail are Cow Parsnip and ...more
This is one of four trails that lead to the high Kesugi Ridge along the Parks Highway about an hour north of Talkeetna. The trail begins in a forested area and ends up above the tree line looking down on muliple drainages. The view at the top is wonderful, so bring a camera! It takes about 2 hours on average to get above treeline.
This trail is the northernmost trail that provides access to Kesugi Ridge. On a clear day, Little Coal Creek Trail takes you to amazing views of Denali (Mt. McKinley). It also gives you those views in the shortest amount of time, about 1.5 hours, of any of the access trails to Kesugi Ridge.
2019 UPDATE: Trail, day use area, kayak tours & rentals, and public use cabins are open, but the main campground will be temporarily closed beginning in 2019 due to the danger posed by trees infested with spruce-bark beetles. Rotting trees have been toppling. State parks plans to reopen the campground after the hazardous trees have been removed. This is one of four trails that lead to Kesugi Ridge. From the Denali State Park campground at ...more