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Denali State Park is an integral part of one of North America's most spectacularly beautiful regions. The park's 325,240 acres, almost one-half the size of Rhode Island, provide the visitor with a great variety of recreational opportunities, ranging from roadside camping to wilderness exploration. The park is about 100 air miles north of Anchorage and is divided roughly in half by the George Parks Highway, the major road link between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Situated between the Talkeetna Mountains to the east and the Alaska Range to the west, the landscape varies from meandering lowland streams to alpine tundra. Dominating this diverse terrain are Curry and Kesugi Ridges, a 35 mile long north-south alpine ridge, the backbone of the eastern half of the park. Denali State Park was established in 1970 and expanded to its present size in 1976. Its western boundary is shared with its much larger neighbor, Denali National Park and Preserve, formerly Mt. McKinley National Park

I did this as a thru hike (30 miles) in 2.5 days in late September and loved it. As others have noted, there aren't many switchbacks and the trail mostly goes straight up and down hills so heavy rain made the trail somewhat treacherous. There were a few sections of rock gardens to hike through where I lost track of the trail and turned to the AllTrails map on my phone for navigation. Not many people out there as I saw 1 other hiker during my trip. The Northern half of this trail is more rugged and technical, which I really enjoyed. The miles are slower than other places I've hiked but the views were incredible. Because of the open tunrda, you are very safe from bears because of the good visibility and hiking / camping views of the Talkeetna and Denali ranges are stunning.

Short but nice view!

Fantastic view..

Tough hike, especially in mediocre weather, but the views were great! We got a late start after a long Friday at work and underestimated our pace, so took out early at Ermine Hill midday Sunday. We would enjoy this more with 3 1/2 days.
If you want similar views in a day hike, try the new Curry Ridge Trail accessed from the brand new Kesugi Ken Campground just 1/4 mile north of the South Denali Overlook.

hiking
4 months ago

Awesome hike, just be aware that the mileage listed here and on the trail signs is way off from the actual trail since it doesn’t include the multitude of switchbacks on the way up. From the lake loop junction to the Ridge trail is actually over 3 miles. To the round trip on this from the campground is about 8.5 not 6.5.
GPS link here for actual trail distance.
https://www.strava.com/activities/1817860348

hiking
4 months ago

We started from Byer’s Lake and hiked 12.5 miles to skinny lake on day 1 after getting a late start. Set up camp there and then hiked down Ermine trail to the highway the next morning for ~20 miles total.

First five miles from Byer’s Lake aren’t too bad; steady climbing and some muddy areas. Views become incredible once above the tree line and with decent visibility we were able to see the Alaska range clearly (although a few peaks remained obscured behind cloud cover).

Walking on the ridge itself is incredible and trail was dry minus a few marshy areas that are hard to avoid. Views of the mountains and the terrain of the hike itself make it well worth it.

backpacking
4 months ago

While I'm sure this hike is spectacular in June and July, in August it was brutal.

The first two days of our trip it rained buckets. The constant rain made for heavy packs and a significantly more challenging trail. More than once I found myself mid-shin-deep in mud. Up on the ridge we couldn't go more than 20 minutes without crossing a gushing stream or marsh. Despite our best efforts, we never exceeded a 1mi/hr pace.

It appears the people of AllTrails are smarter than my boyfriend and me, seeing as most of the reviews here are written in June or July. But if you're an intermediate backpacker thinking you can handle a little rain, please think twice about doing Kesugi in August. If you're still determined to go in August after reading this, please bring the best Gore-Tex rain gear you can find. Your lightweight, 3-year-old rain jacket will be soaked through after just a couple hours.

I'm embarrassed to say I got hypothermia at the end of day 2 from the constant wind and rain. Thankfully my boyfriend was there to set up our tent, pat me dry, feed me peanut butter, and boil water and put it into water bottles to warm me up. It was a close call.

That concludes my PSA. I hope this prevents some other poor, naive nature enthusiast like myself from doing the right hike at the wrong time.

hiking
5 months ago

Loved this trail! Was a bit of an overcast day with some light showering so no views of Denali but we still were able to see the front few mountain ranges. Although I feel this was the perfect hike for this weather whilst in Denali. The rainforest type vegetation with ferns and mushrooms everywhere was very magical to then come across the beautiful cascading falls. We climbed along the falls up to the top to reach the trail again and continued on to the ridge. Beautiful and not too hard at all

backpacking
5 months ago

Amazing hike! A bit tough through the Valley between the K’seugi and Curry’s ridges but totally worth it. Incredible views of Denali and surprisingly great weather the entire three days. Feel blessed to have completed this with my two teenage daughters and beautiful wife.

Hated the beginning and end but loved the middle. Both ends of the trail killed me but so worth it. I would definitely do the whole thing again!

hiking
6 months ago

Great trail with a lot of relatively safe off-trail opportunities. Swam in a lake (very cold), hiked up a bare face of a mountain and saw some ermine.

Only complaint was the mosquitoes at the beginning of the trail, but if you stick with it, it is absolutely worth it

With clear weather this is possibly the most scenic trail in the world. Enjoy!

Magnificent trail! My three kids ages 8, 11 and 13, mother, dog, I had a wonderful time hiking this trail! Glorious views of Denali for the majority of the hike. We did it in a total of 5 hours at a VERY leisure pace with plenty of stops and stopping for lunch. A new favorite for sure!!!

hiking
6 months ago

Starts off flat and descends. Prepare to get eaten alive by huge mosquitoes. Well they help keep you at a good pace I suppose. Then around 1.5 miles you start ascending. Around 2.5 miles you start going up the hill but the trail never leads to the top. It takes you back down to a lake. Very anticlimactic. Two stars for the nice view on the way to the top of the hill that you will never reach. Only wildlife we saw was a wild chicken. It is the state bird of Alaska.

Amazing hike. Fingers crossed you don't have fog the whole time.

backpacking
6 months ago

Awesome hike! I did this in 2 days but it would be great to spend several extra days on the ridge exploring. There are some steep parts but very doable even for those not in great shape. Several boggy areas but all are easy to go around or through on well placed rocks or board walks. Great variety in the terrain and views, it was never boring. I did see a family of black bears near the trail, marmots, moose and tons of ground squirrels. Definitely the best way to see Denali. Be careful on a clear hot day the sun is brutal even with sunscreen. There are plenty of snow melt streams for water, near the end there are lakes. Do not forget the bug dope, there are lots of mosquitoes in some parts. There are 3 pit latrines along the route. Little Coal Creek trailhead is just a parking lot/outhouse/trailhead off the highway - hidden from the road. Byers Lake is a pretty big campground.

Awesome trail!!! I was lucky it was so clear, there are phenomenal views from the top of this trail, I can’t believe this doesn’t have a higher rating! It is stunning, a little bit steep in some spots but easier than Mt. Healy and the views are ridiculous for only a short hike!

Beautiful day and beautiful hike! Lovely view of Denali and Foraker. Highly recommend this hike for anyone and everyone. Pretty mild hike until the top, where it gets pretty strenuous. Pretty great day hike, with the option to make it overnight.

backpacking
6 months ago

Great hike. Beautiful views even if Denali decides to show herself or not. Felt very bushy-backcountry like but did not run into any bears. Made it to the ridge and camped. Enjoyed a clear morning with Denali shining

We just did this trail a couple days ago. The snow is mostly gone off the trail now and we didn’t see any bears so we were happy! A great afternoon hike with great views of the valley.

hiking
7 months ago

Very nice trail - lots of tree roots on the trail (can be good and bad). Lightly populated and beautiful. Trees, creek, nice beaver-made pond. Didn’t see any wildlife besides birds though. Inclines can be steep. We hiked with kids to the pond and back - totally worth a visit. One footbridge needs a little repair, but happy it was there nonetheless.

snowshoeing
Monday, November 27, 2017

we had to park at the entrance because the campground area is closed in winter; this just meant we had more beautiful Lake views. you can follow the road in or hike/snowshoe around the lake to get to the ridge trail which takes you up to kesugi ridge. gorgeous hike with stunning views of denali and the alaska range once you're hiking up to the ridge. it is full of gentle switchbacks which allowed for more views and avoided icy decents. we did not take poles because it was too cold to be holding poles. well woth the stop

backpacking
Sunday, October 15, 2017

Great views when it’s clear out. Either way it’s gorgeous. Started off going downhill then turned into an incline with lots of switchbacks, got easier towards the end. Some interesting rock formations too. Absolutely beautiful and totally worth it. Saw lots of bear so be prepared. Went during fall and it was perfect for blueberry picking. Would highly recommend!

backpacking
Sunday, October 15, 2017

Amazing views of Denali. Pretty tough but so worth it if it’s clear or during sunset. Had amazing weather thankfully, almost too warm out. Woke up to a blue sky and gorgeous Denali. Pretty tough on the way up but it was one of my first backpacking trips. Definitely going back and would highly recommend!

hiking
Friday, September 15, 2017

9/16/2017. Sunny and 45deg- tiny bit of rain. Clouds over most of Denali which was a bummer, but still one of the most beautiful valley views I've seen. First half was really mucky. Last mile or so was the only tough part - steep and rocky but not too difficult. The whole way was really well worn and clear trail. Overall a really great day hike. A little under 4hrs round trip with a stop for lunch. Stopped when we got to a big screw field and didn't think it was worth pushing through that - 3.3mi from trailhead.

backpacking
Wednesday, September 06, 2017

You GOTTA get on the ridge and see the rock formations at the junction. September overnight trip from ermine to skinny lake. Gorgeous.

Awesome variation of scenery. A bit windy when on the ridge and no place for a hammock. But second half of trail is wooded and great. Plenty of streams to get water from.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Nice moderate trail -- not too strenuous, and we even took the root ladder up. Nice views, think it would be super spectacular on a day when Denali is out!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

8/8/17-We hiked this trail to the falls & up the side of the falls to the ridge line and down to Byers lake.. camped overnight, woke up @ 5am to finish our hike around the lake & ran into 2 black bear cubs where the trail gets overgrown, right before the bridge... although we didn't have a problem.. be aware bears are there!.. awesome falls & hike!!!

hiking
Sunday, August 06, 2017

We completed this trail past the falls up to the ridge line and then added the other trail around Beyers Lake to get us close to 9-miles or so. The cascade trail along the ridge gets fairly exposed and on the day we were there - no views of Mt. Denali, although I could imagine the view would be great on a clear day., On the way up and around Beyers lake the vegetation on the side of the trail is very thick, so be Bear Aware.

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