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how hard is the hike

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how hard is the hike


we are considering the noon ranger led hike from eielson visitor center but denali website rated it as a difficult 2 plus hour hike with a significant altitude change.

Is this hike that stenuous? Our main goal is to see wildlife and see the beautiful scenery-should we stick to the 1pm 45 minute/half mile hike or maybe do our own self guided tour?

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1. Re: how hard is the hike

You won't see much if any wildlife on that hike. Wildlife don't like crowds, generally speaking, and there is way too much foot traffic on that hike. The main reason it is difficult is the elevation gain (about 1,000 ft elevation gain if I recall what the ranger at Eielson told me). Usually the ranger makes stops to explain various things so you are not hiking the entire time. Plus, once you get to the top you are on your own to come down at your own pace. This is all information based on talks with hikers who have done this hike and with rangers at Eielson.

I considered doing this hike two summers ago with two friends. But honestly, I thought, "Here we are in a national park with basically no trails and hardly any people. And I am considering a hike on a well-beaten trail with lots of other people?" I quickly dismissed that thought and we went hiking by ourselves. Actually our hike that day was not all that far away from where that ranger-led hike went. But it was a mountain or two over and no trails. We were all by ourselves and we enjoyed it immensely.

In my opinion, if you are not alone, a hike on your own is probably much more worth it. Do a ranger-led hike near the entrance (like the Horseshoe Lake hike) a different day than when you take the shuttle bus.

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2. Re: how hard is the hike

That hike is up Thoro mt. across from Eielson visitor center. I've hiked it numerous times, but never with the ranger-led group.

It's in clear view of the visitor center, so is a pretty safe hike location. It's fine to climb the trail alone to the top & back down again to Eielson. It's steep but on a switchback trail.

Once on the top I like to hike along the ridge west. My friend and I saw colonies of marmots (with babies!), were above the eagle nest with eagles soaring, and saw the largest boar I have ever seen down in the valley below. However, one must keep a clear sense of how one got up so one can find that spot to get down!

I have only gone up when the mountain is out & oooh la la what a sight it is from up there! I also only go up from the first shuttle bus so I have it fairly alone. It can get to be a busy trail.

It's hard to rate a hike since my "difficult" would be someone else's "easy" LOL . I would personally call that trail up moderate, since it's a switchback and an actual well-worn trail. But if the rangers rate it as difficult they do it because it is steep.

Adirondack, New York
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3. Re: how hard is the hike

Last September on the day we were there the trail to the top was closed because of bears activity. We saw bears in the area around visitor center many times so be careful if hiking without a park ranger but you won't be alone. When trail is opened and no rain you will have lots of company. The views from the top of the trail are magnificent but you do not have to hike all the way up to get breathtaking views. Park rangers monitor this trail all the time and once while hiking in the area a park ranger biked and then run up the mountain (nearby not the Thoro Mt) because from the visitor center he saw with his binoculars a bear right behind us grazing on tundra and we were just sitting there enjoying an exceptionally beautiful day.

Edited: 28 March 2012, 16:03
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4. Re: how hard is the hike

Yep,one must constantly, relentlessly be scouting & on the lookout for bears. They go everywhere in DNP.

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5. Re: how hard is the hike

My family and I did the hike across from Eielson last June and really enjoyed it. We too did it on our own and didn’t find the trail crowded when we were there around 10:30 or 11 am. It’s pretty steep but I went up slowly and was fine – actually, I found it more strenuous getting down (for the legs)! As recommended by denalicat we walked along the ridge for a while – spectacular view even though the mountain was not out – and beautiful wild flowers!

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6. Re: how hard is the hike

I did a Discovery hike. It was a ranger led hike that you sign up for, they run 2 a day, and they vary in difficulty, when I researched them, it seemed that of the 2 daily hikes, one was more strenuous, and the other was moderate to neglible terrain. My hike was flat, we hiked Grants creek, it was a highlight of my trip. They have info on the DNP website on the Discovery Hikes. You will need a shuttle bus ticket to Eielson to go on a Discovery hike, they will tell you what bus to buy your ticket for, as the busses for Discovery hikes are preplanned and only allow the people that paid for the hike to board the bus. On the way out, you can grab any bus to get back to the front of the park.

7. Re: how hard is the hike

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