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 Byers Lake, this gentle stroll is the perfect way to spend a few hours. Wander through spruce and birch trees on the north side of the lake and enjoy big views of the Alaska Range and Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) from the east side. The trail is primitive and can be muddy, but a new boardwalk (constructed in 2011) keeps your feet above the trail’s swampy sections. You’ll find two bridges on the hike—one over the inlet, and the other at the outlet of Byers Creek—and they’re great places to look for rainbow trout. Also the east side of the lake, you’ll find several backcountry campsites, with wooden tent platforms, fire rings, and a food locker. Hike in here to camp or canoe to the campsites.
If it’s a clear day, consider branching off the Byers Lake Trail and heading up Cascade Trail. Just be prepared: this is a steep, difficult climb; the trail is filled with roots, and it gets slick when wet. But there’s a payoff: two miles of climbing brings you above treeline to K’esugi Ridge. In total, it takes about 3 hours to reach the point above treeline. Panoramic views from the bald ridge open to the snow-clad mountains that are 35 miles away.