Skyline Lodge Hiking

Hiking in Kantishna is a premier activity. Whether taking leisurely strolls along the Denali Park Road or spending the entire day high above it all along incredible ridgelines, guests are left with a true Alaskan experience that is sure to stay with them long after they leave.

Guests staying at Skyline Lodge have a wide variety of day excursions to choose from, most accessible right from our front door. To help plan your time in Kantishna we’ve created a list of the best hikes and adventures within the surrounding area. Once you arrive at Skyline one of our friendly staff members will be glad to go over them in more detail. We have maps and walking sticks available as well.

Fannie Quigley’s Cabin (2 miles roundtrip)

No trip to Kantishna is complete without a short walk to Fannie Quigley’s cabin. Located just ¾ of a mile from our lodge, guests can explore the historical cabin that dates back to the mining era. Beyond the cabin, guests can check out the “End of the Road” sign at the terminus of the Denali Park Road , active beaver ponds, as well as the airstrip. Before heading back up the hill to Skyline Lodge guests can stop at The Denali Backcountry Lodge and walk along Moose Creek. The views of our lodge are exquisite from this vantage point. This makes for a great post dinner activity for those looking to stretch their legs perhaps after a long day on the bus. Be sure to ask a staff member for the key to Fannie’s cabin.

Beginning of Quigley Ridge

Skyline Drive (4 miles roundtrip)

Skyline drive is an old mining road that begins right from our lodge. While Skyline Drive serves as the trailhead for other ridge hikes and tundra loops, it is also a great walk by itself. For guests looking for a gentler ascent this is the hike is the best option. The road, which lacks any vehicle traffic, meanders uphill for two miles before reaching a hitching post. If you follow the road a little beyond the hitching post you will be rewarded with great views of the Alaskan Range. To the right of the hitching post guests can access Quigley Ridge Lookout via a short 5 minute walk on a primitive trail. The views from the lookout are worth wild and will not disappoint. Ptarmigan and Marmots are often spotted here so be on the lookout. Once you’ve taken in the views, return via the same route.

Skyline Drive and Quigley ridge from Wickersham

Quigley Ridge Loop (4 miles roundtrip)

Quigley Ridge is a favorite amongst staff and guests. The trail begins at Skyline Drive and provides access to a beautiful ridgeline that overlooks not only the entire Kantishna Valley but on clear days provides impressive views of Wonder Lake and the Alaskan Range as well. While you can access the ridge via the hitching post, if you are looking to do the full loop, we always recommend an approach that involves a steeper climb initially. This is to avoid having to descend along the stepper portion, which is generally harder on joints and more difficult. To access the ridge you will follow Skyline Drive for approximately a ¼ mile before taking a right at a large boulder. This is where you’ll leave the road and begin a steep incline on a primitive trail. Take your time and be sure to take in the views as you gain elevation. Once upon the ridge you’ll soon realize why it is such a favorite. In June and July you’ll be amazed by the all the wildflowers. In August wild berries can be abundant. You’ll know you have reached the end of the ridge once you arrive to several large rocky outcroppings, this is Quigley Ridge Overlook. From here you will descend a short ways down to the hitching post and back to Skyline Drive, which you can follow all the way back to our lodge. Guests looking for more adventure can continue up Wickersham Dome.

Quigley Ridge w_ Wickersham Dome

Wickersham Dome (6-7 miles roundtrip)

Wickersham Dome offers some of the best views of the surrounding area as it is one of the taller points. Those who make it to the top are rewarded with stunning 360 degree views. While Denali and the Alaskan Range can be seen to the south, it is sometimes the endless views in the opposite direction that leave people breathless. It’s from this vantage point that the vastness of Denali National Park can be comprehended. This hike is accessible via Skyline Drive (or Quigley Ridge). Follow Skyline Drive for 2 miles before arriving at the hitching post. From here you will take a left and begin your ascent through open tundra along a primitive trail. An occasional caribou can be spotted in addition to numerous marmots. You will know you are at the top of the dome once you arrive to some seismic equipment that park service has in place. You’ll get a good sense of the land as you can see all of Skyline Drive, Quigley Ridge and Camp Ridge,. Enjoy a lunch from the top and take the time to explore the spongy tundra before heading back down the same way you came up.

Camp Ridge (5-10 miles roundtrip)

Camp Ridge is great option for guests with multiple days and have already explored some of the hikes right from our front door (Quigley Ridge, Wickersham Dome). The trailhead is approximately 1 mile from our lodge along the Denali Park Road. Look for a rock cairn on the left side of the road. This is the beginning of Camp Ridge. While not as steep as Quigley Ridge’s initial ascent, Camp Ridge still takes about an hour of uphill travel before getting onto a wide open ridgeline. Views of Wonder Lake, The Alaskan Range, and Denali dominate this hike. Even if the mountain is hidden from view by clouds there is so much else to take in along this gorgeous route. This trail ultimately leads to a small cabin named Pika Hut. It’s owned by Camp Denali and depending on your timing they may have a group up there. Be respectful while enjoying the surrounding area. If you make it this far you’ve gone 5 miles and it’s time to turn around and head back in the direction you came from.

Camp Ridge

Blueberry Hill & Wonder Lake

After traveling so long and so far to get to Kantishna, spending some time at the iconic Wonder Lake is usually top of the list for guests. Located 4.5 miles away, our guests can access the lake either by foot, bike or bus. While there is no hike that circumnavigates the lake, spending time at the picturesque north end of the lake is a wonderful way to spend a morning or afternoon. If you’ve seen photos of Denali with Wonder Lake in the foreground, it is from this location. And while most guests get to view this stunning view from the bus on their way in, it’s worth your wild to get out there again and enjoy the majestic location on foot. Water fowl are often spotted along with the occasional moose wading along the shores. From the north end of the lake guests can walk up Blueberry Hill, which is a pleasant stroll and offers incredible views of the Lake and Denali towering in the distance.

Wonder Lake

McKinley Bar Trail (5 miles roundtrip)

The McKinley Bar Trail is a 5 mile roundtrip hike that is located ¼ mile before the Wonder Lake Campground. The best and easiest way to access the trailhead is by bus. Skyline guests can purchase a Wonder Lake bus ticket for $5 and catch the 8:45AM bus right from our lodge and be at the trailhead within 15 minutes. This easy trail, with little elevation change, meanders through open tundra, a spruce forest and past many small ponds before reaching the McKinley River Bar. Don’t be fooled by the small channels of this braided river fed by the Muldrow Glacier. The bar is over a mile wide and is treacherous to cross. You will not be crossing it luckily. On a clear day, Denali dominates the view, but even when “The Great One” is shrouded by clouds many other impressive peaks of The Alaskan Range can still be spotted.. Once back at the trailhead, guests can catch a 1:05pm camper bus back to our lodge. For more time in this area you can choose to hop on the bus and get dropped off at Reflection Pond and explore more of the surrounding area. The last bus back to our lodge is at 5:05 pm.

Mckinley River Bar