Hiking Project Logo

This great route is perfect for those seeking a longer trip through two distinct ecosystems.

Your Rating: Rating Rating Rating Rating Rating      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add To-Do · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key





Point to Point

4,110' 1,253 m


2,539' 774 m


1,626' 496 m


1,788' 545 m



Avg Grade (6°)


Max Grade (36°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife


Whether you're seeking to explore alpine tundra or are seeking a riverside hike, this route will deliver! You'll begin your trek near the Savage River Campground, a popular destination for those camping in the park, and will travel through the tundra to the Savage River Loop Trailhead, where you'll embark on the riverside portion of your journey. Once you've taken in all that the journey has to offer, you can hop on the Savage River Shuttle for a scenic and well-deserved ride back to the campground.

Need to Know

Bears frequent this area. Please be bear aware by making noise while you hike, and bring bear spray.


Starting from the Savage River Campground, you'll either park your vehicle, disembark from the shuttle, or leave your warm sleeping bag behind. You'll need to cross the Park Road to really start your journey, so keep an eye out for posted signs directing you to the trail. The first portion of this route is a pleasant warm up, and you'll be hiking over mostly flat terrain. Take some time to take in the spectacular view, especially while the going is easy. Though you'll be moving through forests at first, soon enough you'll reach the tundra where spectacular views will open up in almost all directions. On a clear day, you'll have plenty of vistas that open up all the way to Denali. Even from 60 miles away, the incredible mountain looms over the surrounding ranges, making for spectacular photos.

As you continue, you'll enjoy moving along this well-built trail as it continues to climb. You'll be climbing away from the drainage that the trail starts next to, but switchbacks will keep the going at a comfortable grade. Once you reach the ridgeline, you'll begin a westward trend. This continues to an open, spectacular view, and makes for a very scenic hike.

By the time that you've reached the 2.5-mile marker, you'll have reached the high point in the hike, and you'll start a rather steep descent to the Savage River. This portion of the trail is a testament to the hard work of the trail crew, as there are beautifully built switchbacks that ease your travel over some challenging and rocky terrain. You'll make short work of the descent, and you'll soon find yourself at Savage Rocks. Continue past the rocks, to reach the Savage River Loop parking area and trailhead, where you'll embark on the Savage River Loop Trail.

By the time that you've reached this loop, you'll have knocked out the most difficult portions of the journey, and you'll be able to enjoy this more mellow portion of the hike. Start working your way to the north. The trail is well defined, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to take a look around you at the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Keep an eye out on your journey up the river for collared pika, marmots and Dall sheep, depending on the season.

After about a mile, you'll come to a well-built bridge that will deposit you on the other side of the water. From here, you'll begin a journey heading south to return to the Savage River Trailhead. The trail remains easy to navigate and enjoyable.

Once you find yourself back at the trailhead, take off your pack and rest while you wait for the next Savage River Shuttle, which you can take free of charge to return to the Savage River Campground. If you've arrived after the shuttle has stopped running or want to extend your journey, you can also travel back to your starting point via the park road. You'll still enjoy many great views, and the road isn't heavily traveled, so you won't be interrupted by auto traffic.

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

Visitors will see a variety of ecosystems, ranging from forested terrain to tundra slopes. Animals range in size from pika to grizzly bear, and you'll likely see smaller mammals along the way.


Shared By:

Ike Waits

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 16 votes


  4.8 from 16 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Recommended Route Rankings


in Alaska


2 Views Last Month
1,877 Since Sep 15, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult



Savage Canyon View
Oct 22, 2015 near Healy, AK
A fall hike alongside the wild and powerful Savage River with mountain visible in the distance.
Jun 13, 2016 near Healy, AK
Trailhead looking back towards Savage River & Denali Park bridge crossing
Sep 16, 2020 near Healy, AK
Great views of Denali and the Savage River!
Sep 15, 2020 near Healy, AK
View from bridge crossing over Savage River, September 2015.
Jun 13, 2016 near Healy, AK
Half-way point of the trail crosses over the river.
Jun 13, 2016 near Healy, AK



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Jun 20, 2022
Randy Turner
Jun 9, 2022
Robert De Rose
5.9mi — 3h 00m
Aug 15, 2021
Haden Smith
Broke it up over 2 days but we did it! 6mi
May 31, 2021
R Lee
Sep 3, 2019
Tom Tom
Sep 2, 2019
Leon Zhang
Aug 23, 2019
Axiom Inc
Aug 19, 2019
Jeff Lee
4.2mi — 2h 33m

Join the Community

Create your FREE account today!
Already have an account? Login to close this notice.

Get Started