Hiking Denali - The Savage Alpine Trail

So far, we completed two loop hikes in Denali National Park and while the park service grades the Horseshoe Lake and Savage River Loop trails as "Moderate" in difficulty, in reality, they are easy hikes. Especially when compared with our next hike, The Savage Alpine Trail (given a "Strenuous" difficulty rating, only one step up from the Moderate rating). With 1500 feet elevation change, this 4 mile point to point hike proved to be a challenge, but with amazing vistas, friendly chipmunks and bonus moose sightings, well worth the effort.

To give you some perspective, a map screen shot of the Savage River loop (red) and the Savage Alpine trail (yellow) is shown below:

As a point to point hike, the park service recommends you utilize the park shuttle bus either before or after your hike. We didn't want to wait on this service so we parked one car at the start and the other car at the end this way: We all drove to mile 15 and dropped off everyone. Teresa and I drove both cars to mile 12 and dropped off her car. The two of us drove back to mile 15 with my car. This gave us a car at each lot.

Traversing the Savage River Alpine Trail

​The trailhead at Savage river starts with a steep and rocky ascent. This part of the trail is the rockier section. By starting at the Savage River (vs starting at the campground and going the opposite direction), the hiker encounters the steepest section of the trail first. For me, that is the preferred way to hike - get the hard part done first!

Rocky Climb

Matty is always joking around:
Always a jokester

Making our way up.

Taking a break:
Hiking Denali Savage River area

The scenery of the Savage River valley below was amazing. The weather was on the cooler side but with no threat of precipitation and partially cloudy skies - ideal for hiking.
Denali Savage Creek

The trail eventually flattens out and traverses along the ridge, high above the lowlands below.
Far Up

These little guys weren't shy!
Friendly Encounter

What goes up eventually comes down, and the descent was quite gradual with plenty of wildflowers and vegetation flanking the crushed trail.

The Views Were Amazing on Today's Hike #getoutandhike #fireweed #mountains #landscape #denalinationalpark #savagealpinetrail #clbm_ak18

Moose Sighting
We encountered another couple hiking in the opposite direction and they let us know that a Mother Moose and her baby had been spotted close by. Teresa and Shirley quickly came upon Scott who had halted along the trail - the Mother Moose was on the trail around the corner!
The pair was blocking our access to the trail, so we waited, watched and took photos. We took care to never come between the mother and her baby - the adult moose is a daunting animal you don't want to mess with.

Denali Savage Alpine Moose

Mother and Baby finally crossed the creek and the trail was clear for us to pass. It was an amazing encounter.

Denali Savage Creek

We really enjoyed our limited time in Denali even though we only saw a fraction of the park. Hiking is a great way to catch glimpses of the vast land and if we had more time, we would do more hikes. For a pdf version of the available trails at Denali National Park, click this link: Hiking in Denali

Diane  – (August 1, 2019 at 11:39 PM)  

Wow, looks like such a great time and bravo for doing that Savage River trail. I used to go hiking in Waterton National Parks every September and did all those crazy trails up in the mountains. I loved it. During the week I'd walk to work (1 1/2 hours plus a huge staircase of 110 steps) and then a long bike ride after supper. Whew, how did I ever do all that? I admire what you're doing. And love seeing the photos.

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