“This longer out and back route is great for a longer day or an overnight at a beautiful alpine lake”
— Ike Waits
Fall Colors · Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Whether you're looking for a longer outing to tackle in a day or you're seeking an overnight adventure, this route is sure to satisfy. You'll get all of the highlights of the Triple Lakes Trail
, though you'll save yourself a little bit of distance by heading back for the trailhead after reaching Triple Lakes
. At just under 15 miles, this route is perfect for either a longer, more strenuous day on trail or an excellent backpacking route, as there is a variety of backcountry campsites available.
Need to Know
While bears may not be common in the area, it is recommended that you be bear aware, make noise as you hike, and carry bear spray.
You'll begin your journey from the Denali Visitor Center, where you'll want to head south to find the Triple Lakes Connector
. The route will be fairly obvious, and will lead you south past the airstrip. Any trappings of civilization will quickly fall behind, as you'll soon be entering a densely forested area.
You'll eventually continue onto the Triple Lakes Trail
, which will meander gently for the first mile or so before depositing visitors at the foot of a steep climb. The next mile will be the most strenuous of the trip, so be sure to slow down and take breaks when you need to. There won't be many switchbacks to ease your progress, but there are still plenty of places to stop, catch your breath, and enjoy some spectacular views. Though you won't top out on the ridgeline for a little while longer, the climbing will ease significantly past the three-mile mark.
Enjoy the rolling terrain, because a few miles further on you'll notice that you're dropping swiftly to the first of the three lakes on this route. The lakes are clustered together, so you'll find that after the strenuous climb to reach the lakes, you'll have a much easier time visiting all three. The views from each are comparable and include sweeping views of Denali in the distance. You may want to bring your camera, as there will be ample opportunity to snap some wildlife shots. The wet hollow that houses the lakes is perfect moose habitat, and you're likely to see these giants or at least their leavings.
From the lakes, you can either decide to set up your tent for the night before making the return trip, or you may want to have lunch before turning around. Though you can continue on to George Parks Highway, the rest of the route isn't very scenic, and you'll still need to get back to the visitor center.
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 be navigating under a dense boreal forest, and small critters abound. You may even see a moose!