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.

Take a walk along Byers Lake, or hike one of the four trails ascending Kesugi Ridge for panoramic views of the Alaska Range and the continent's highest peak, Denali (Mt. McKinley).

Plan your journey with the Alaska Map

This state map includes top destinations and attractions, driving guides, & more!

Order the map

Show Map

Denali State Park Trails

45 mins North of Talkeetna
Difficulty: Difficult

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. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 5 miles

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

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 4 miles

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.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

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.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

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. 

Difficulty: Easy

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

[{"slug":"denali-state-park","title":"Denali State Park"}]

Talkeetna Trails

Trails near town

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

You’ll find even more play­grounds that take advan­tage of the unique assets of their loca­tions. Here’s a list of our top picks!

Difficulty: Moderate

Year round, multi­use trails that form a loop between the town of Tal­keet­na, the Tal­keet­na Riv­er and the rolling hills that lie east of town 

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. 

Difficulty: Easy

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.

Difficulty: Easy

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

Difficulty: Difficult

If you have some seri­ous time and seri­ous ener­gy, take an adven­ture: hike the 20 miles out the Chase Trail to see what’s left of a lux­u­ry hotel built as a lay­over for the rail­road jour­ney between Seward and Fairbanks.

Difficulty: Easy

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.

[{"slug":"denali-state-park","title":"Denali State Park"},{"slug":"talkeetna","title":"Talkeetna"},{"slug":"anchorage","title":"Anchorage"}]

Explore Further

Expert Advice