Mt Healy Overlook Trail, Denali NP


Feb 1, 2014
My wife thought we should do something special for our 30th anniversary and that special thing would be to go to Alaska. I grew up in the desert and have never been all that interested in Alaska cause I thought it was just a cold wet place. But I've had a number of friends who went there and came back raving about what a great place it was. So I said, "Sure, let's go to Alaska" and she signed us up for a tour. When I found out that one of the places on the tour was Denali National Park I thought, 'Denali is one of the hiking Meccas of the world. I can't go there and not go on a hike. ' so I started trying to figure out what was there that I could do. It turns out that, for a National Park the size of some states, there are only a handful of established trails. Access into the Park is very limited and only two trails near the entrance allow unlimited access and one requires transportation to get to the trail head. In addition I thought that going off trail would be unwise since I expected to go by myself. So I picked the trail closest to our motel which is the Mount Healy Overlook Trail. On the bus my wife was telling a couple ladies how her crazy husband was going hiking the moment we got to the motel. One of their husbands overheard that remark and told me that he'd like to come along. John and I left the motel about 6:30 pm for a hike that turned out to be 9 miles round trip and 2000 ft elevation gain and loss. I was so concerned about the late start that I didn't take any pictures till we got to the overlook. I thought we'd be hiking in the dark on the way back and I had failed to bring a headlamp. We got to the overlook somewhere around 9:00 pm. There was plenty of daylight left so we stayed and enjoyed the awesome view and didn't hurry back. The sun began setting on the return but it never got too dark to see even when we arrived back at the motel at 11:30 pm.

I hope that all of you get the opportunity to visit Denali too.

John at Mt Healy Overlook

The view south at the Overlook

The remainder of the pictures were taken on the way back down.
The overlook is in the sunshine on the right side of the picture.


Many of the pictures are panoramas and can be better seen on Flickr at
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I did a backpack in denali July last year with two of my brothers, and it might be the prettiest place I've ever been. The late light was one of my favorite things. We'd set up camp after eleven pm.
No pics still on my end......
Sorry, I went back for one more edit and evaporated the pictures again. Should be ok now.
beautiful. you're lucky you had as clear a day as you did.
We were lucky. We ran into some locals on the trail who told us that this was the first day without rain in a month which was why they were out hiking. Where did you go hiking Ben?
Up the savage river, over a pass, and back down sanctuary river to the road. Not far in from the high way.
Those pics are amazing. Alaska is just so vast and impressive. thanks for fixing that. I've been to Alaska but not to Denali NP, I think I need to change that.
Up the savage river, over a pass, and back down sanctuary river to the road. Not far in from the high way.
Got my map out and looked that up. Looks like it would have been a great trip. Wish I could have been with you. I have to agree that the area is very pretty. Very different from any other place I've ever been. I'm already trying to figure out how to get back. I also agree with your comment about the late light.
Beautiful shots. I'd love to get up to Denali someday.
I hope you do. Its unlike anything I've seen before. Practically any place that you can go is off trail and you can probably count on never seeing another person while you're off trail. It also looks to me like anything below treeline would involve a nasty bushwack (doesn't seem to bother moose or bears very much) unless you're walking up a water course. Ben Cowen could answer that better. The route he describes above would have required going below treeline but he might have done that in a water course. Trees/brush are only waist high to about 20 ft max but are dense. The good part is that treeline is only about 3000 ft above sea level so its not terribly hard to get above it. Good rain gear would be a necessity.
we did about thirty miles in a little more than two days. thick brush was very troublesome at some points. but a lot of it was really nice. there should be a trip report some time in the next month.
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we did about thirty miles in a little more than two days. thick brush was very troublesome at some points. but a lot of it was really nice. there should be a trip report some time in the next month.
Looking forward to reading it.
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