Rock Creek Loop

A popular hike linking the visitor center and sled dog kennels, with some great views along the way.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
7.2 km
Ascent
296 m
Descent
296 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
539 m
High Point
698 m
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
Rock Creek Loop Map

Description

The Rock Creek Trail links Denali's main visitor center to the sled dog kennels and park headquarters two miles west. To form a loop, it's commonly paired with the Roadside Trail to create the 4.5-mile circuit seen here. The trail is known for its epic views of the Alaskan Range, and the spring and summer wildflowers are nothing short of spectacular. Wildlife sightings, including bear, beaver, fox, and moose, are also common in the area.

If you are hiking Rock Creek with plans to experience a sled dog demonstration, the park suggests starting your hike at least two hours before the program begins. Restrooms and drinking water are available at both trailheads, but none along the trail. As one of the most popular hikes from the visitor center, the path is well-maintained and easy to follow, though it can be especially busy on holiday weekends.

Though this could be considered an easy hike to many, there is still some elevation change that some hikers may find it challenging at times. As an alternative, the McKinley Station Loop is an easier hike nearby that follows a wide, crushed gravel pathway. Ranger Led Hikes are also an option to experience the area, with tours departing the visitor center daily from June 1st until September 12th.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/rock.htm https://www.theoutbound.com/alaska/hiking/hike-the-rock-creek-trail

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

May, June, July, August, September

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area