Looking for some hiking trails in Denali National Park? Check out the Savage River loop trail to explore the closest spot near the permitted checkpoint only suited for tour buses.
The Savage River trail is just 15 miles down on Park Road to Savage River. We drove up to the Savage River Check station but there are shuttles as well.
This is a well-maintained trail in the tundra that takes you up and down the hills right next to the river.
This wasn’t the top choice in our Denali National Park itinerary but we made it work since it was the furthest we could go with our own rental car.
Also called the Savage River loop trail, the whole round trip can take up to two hours.
This is one of the more well-known hiking trails, but check out these other guided hiking tours of Denali if you want to see more and go off the beaten path a bit.
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About the Savage River Loop Trail
This is not the easiest trek because you have to climb up the rocky stairs, but still not too difficult either.
If you’re lucky like we were and the sun is out, the visibility and views get even better.
Check out our full Denali National Park packing checklist to ensure you have all the right gear during your trip.
It first goes up and then comes down and as you’re about to reach the topmost part of the trail, you can see the river, the road next to it, and the bridge that connects the two sides.
This is more of a dry and rocky terrain of Denali National Park, so it’s not as forested like the tundra. However, the views are still pretty cool and worth the effort.
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Savage River Loop Trail Map
Check out these different routes you can take along the Savage River trail in Denali.
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What to Know Hiking the Savage River Loop Trail
Once you’re at the top, spend some time looking around and taking in the views and the fresh air.
Although that’s not always possible if you go in high-season and there are many other hikers as well. Still, it’s a great spot to take some pictures of the river.
Another cool thing is that hiking off-trail in this area is allowed, so if you want to check out some other sides, you can.
But be very careful, especially on the top, as it’s quite uneven and rocky. We just moved a little closer to the edge to see the river even better.
The trail then goes down, which, in my opinion, is a little trickier than going uphill.
Thankfully, the path is well-paved, so you shouldn’t have any trouble coming down.
As you go down, you can see the river clearly zig-zagging with Mount Margaret in the backdrop.
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Animals Located on the Savage River Trail
We’ve heard that bear encounters can happen on this trail too. Unfortunately, or should I say, fortunately, we didn’t have any such encounter.
You can see other animals like moose, caribou, and praire dog squirrels along the way.
Look at this little guy that we came across on the trail.
Although, since this is a popular trail, such sightings are rare.
This trail actually crosses the bridge and continues on the other side going back to the original starting point near Savage River checkpoint.
If you like, you can continue on and see some amazing views from the other side as well. We pretty much just stuck to this side of the hike as it also showed us some stellar views of the adjacent mountains.
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