This hike provides the perfect opportunity to get your children outside and let them safely explore the Denali backcountry while you enjoy a picnic lunch in one of America's most beautiful locations.
The Toklat River provides the perfect location for you and your family to enjoy your afternoon, partaking in a short, pre or post-lunch hike, in which you can enjoy fantastic views of the Alaska Range, while your kids explore the riverbank searching for interesting rocks and animal tracks.
Need to Know
Bears have been known to inhabit this area frequently. While they are indeed a risk, taking the proper precautions can mean the difference between a non-existent or safe encounter, and a deadly one. For more information on how to proceed safely in bear country, see the Denali Wildlife Safety Guide.
To reach the hike's starting point, tell the bus driver to drop you off just west of where the road crosses the Toklat River, about a 1/4 mile south of the Toklat Ranger Cabin. From here, head down the bank to the river's edge, scanning for bears in the area as you go, and continue down the river for about a mile until reaching the confluence of the Toklat and a small drainage from the west. This is a wonderful place to stop and have lunch, both for its spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, as well as the ability to safely watch your kids as they explore the river's sand bars with relatively low risk of a grizzly approaching without your knowledge.
After enjoying your picnic lunch and successfully tiring out your children, simply follow the river back the way you came to the road and catch the next bus back to your final destination.
Buses generally pass every half-hour, with some exceptions. For an in-depth guide to the Denali bus schedules, click here.
This content was contributed by author Ike Waits. For a comprehensive hiking guide to Denali National Park and to see more by Ike, click here.
Flora & Fauna
You'll enjoy the opportunity see a variety of native plants, and if you're lucky a marmot or pika will peek out to say hello.