Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,500.00 ft (457.20 m)
Trail type
9.50 mi (15.29 km)
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In a national park as big as the state of New Hampshire, you might expect some epically long hiking trails. But in fact, the most extensive trail in Denali National Park and Preserve is only 9.5 miles long. You could of course hike much farther across any of the park’s vast, untracked wilderness, but to claim the longest official path, you need only complete the Triple Lakes Trail. 

This trail connects the park visitor center and a point along the highway to the south, traversing a beautiful slice of wilderness in between. Though the route roughly parallels the highway, it stays on the far side of a broad ridge and and dips into an isolated valley, thus feeling sufficiently far from civilization. The surroundings are mixed forest of spruce, alder, and aspen––rich with the color of wildflowers in summer and foliage in the fall. Much of the way is sheltered beneath the canopy, but frequent clearings allow views over the lakes and sprawling mountains all around.

The journey can be envisioned in three distinct portions based on the terrain. The southernmost third of the trail is where the namesake Triple Lakes are found. Here the trail contours the slope of the ridge and dips down to each of the three quiet lakes. The middle third rises to the crest of the crest of the ridge, and crosses the trail’s highpoint of 2800 feet. This stretch has most of the elevation gain, but also the best views. You’ll see all three lakes from above, gaze over the expansive valley of Riley Creek, and admire peaks of the mountain range. The northernmost third of the trail is much flatter, more or less following the river through especially vibrant forest, and crossing twice on picturesque bridges. Altogether, this trail is a long but fairly casual trek through the varied environments of Denali’s lower elevations, and offers good chances at spotting wildlife. You might see ptarmigan, beaver, moose, or even a bear.

The 9.5 mile distance is one-way between the trail’s two endpoints––a southern trailhead along Highway 3 and a northern trailhead near the park visitor center. The best way to hike the full trail is one-way from south to north using a vehicle shuttle. The park does not offer shuttle service for this route, however. Unless you have two vehicles of your own, you’ll have to utilize a hotel’s courtesy shuttle to make it work. Otherwise, you can hike an out-and-back of any distance from either trailhead.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round



Long walk on easy trail. Varied scenery. Backcountry feel.


Arranging shuttle for one-way hike.

Trailhead Elevation

1,850.00 ft (563.88 m)

Highest point

2,800.00 ft (853.44 m)


Family friendly
Guided tours
Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Old-growth forest
Big vistas
Big Game Watching
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures


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