Alaska Hiking – Kenai to Denali
9 days
From $ 5999
Duration9 days

Spend nine days hiking through some of Alaska’s most dramatic landscapes. Alaska is full of breathtaking landscapes and awe-inspiring adventure. Rugged coastline, towering peaks and vast tundra stretch endlessly toward the sweeping skyline. This trip focuses on a wide range of Alaska’s most iconic destinations, making it the perfect trip for enthusiastic hikers interested in checking Alaska off of their bucket lists. Get a first taste of the trail in the rugged Chugach Mountains before traveling to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, where a million acres of wilderness provide the backdrop to a beautiful hike above Skilak Lake. Search for spouting whales and bobbing puffins on a scenic cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park. Hike to the massive Harding Icefield along one of Alaska’s most spectacular trails. Midway through the journey, transition from vast ocean coastline to otherworldly alpine scenery in Denali National Park. Hike to hidden backcountry lakes and high ridgelines where, on clear days, Denali can be seen in all its majestic grandeur. The experience of striking out into this great wilderness alongside expert guides and new friends is not one to be missed.

This tour is operated by

  • Duration: 9 days
    Service level: Standard
  • Starts in: Rocky Mountains
    Physical Grading: Average
  • Ages: 18+


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Day 1: Travel down Turnagain Arm. Take a warm-up hike in the Chugach Mountains.

Start place: Rocky Mountains

Our trip begins today in Anchorage, Alaska. Meet your guides and hiking companions at 8am at our Anchorage host hotel. After introductions and a brief orientation, we jump into our vehicle and drive down Turnagain Arm to the trailhead of our warm-up hike in the rugged Chugach Mountains. Here, in the world’s northernmost temperate rainforest, we enjoy our first taste of Alaskan wilderness as our guides enlighten us on some of the flora and fauna we may encounter during our upcoming adventure. Returning to our vehicle at hike’s end, we continue to the small town of Girdwood. We take a tram to the summit of Mount Alyeska for a picnic lunch with fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and meadows. Late this afternoon we arrive at our evening’s lodging, comfortable cedar cabins in the heart of Chugach National Forest. We have our first dinner together tonight in the main lodge dining room. Lunch and dinner included.
Driving time: 2 hours; hiking: approx. 3 miles with minimal elevation gain/loss.
Meals: D
Day 2: Hike up the Cottonwood Creek trail for views of the Kenai landscape.
We take a one-hour drive to lovely Skilak Lake this morning and board our boat for the transfer across the lake to the start of our hike. Beginning directly from the lakeshore, we follow the trail up through beautiful forests of cottonwood, Sitka spruce and hemlock en route to the high country above. After a final climb, our trail rises above tree line and reaches open tundra rewarding us with fantastic vistas of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding landscape. We enjoy a picnic lunch in this picturesque setting surrounded by millions of acres of wilderness. Afterward we head back down the trail to the lake where our boat awaits to transport us to the far shore. We spend the night tonight in a cozy riverside lodge located on the banks of the Kenai River. All meals included.
Driving time: 1.75 hours; hiking: 5 miles with 2,200’ of elevation gain/loss.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 3: Hike to Exit Glacier and the awe-inspiring Harding Icefield.
Spanning over 700 square miles, the Harding Icefield and its outflowing glaciers comprise the largest icefield located entirely within the U.S. After breakfast this morning, we set out on one of the Kenai’s most spectacular day hikes on a trail that climbs alongside Exit Glacier and ultimately leads to the icefield itself. After winding through forests of cottonwood and alder, our trail rises above tree line and the views continue to get better and better. As we skirt Exit Glacier, our exceptional guides help us understand the geological forces that shaped this remarkable landscape over the millennia. Conditions permitting, we continue our climb to a breathtaking viewpoint overlooking the Harding Icefield, an otherworldly landscape of ice stretching as far as the eye can see. After returning to the trailhead this afternoon we transfer to nearby Exit Glacier Lodge, our home for the next two nights. All meals included.
Transfer: 1.25 Hours; hiking: Up to 8 miles with 3,500’ of elevation gain/loss.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 4: Cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park in search of marine wildlife.
With miles of rugged coastline containing massive tidewater glaciers, snowcapped mountains and an abundance of marine wildlife, Kenai Fjords National Park is one of Alaska’s crown jewels. This morning, we set course for the awe-inspiring landscapes of this protected wilderness. As we cruise past the park’s rocky islands, we search for some of the 20 species of seabirds that summer here including horned and tufted puffins, oystercatchers, murrelets, and bald eagles. We also watch for the telltale spouts of nearby humpback whales feeding in these nutrient-rich waters. Further into the park, we maneuver close to a beautiful tidewater glacier, marveling at its blue-tinged surfaces and listening to the cracking and groaning of the glacial ice. Weather permitting, we take a short, wilderness beach hike before cruising back to Seward. Dinner is on our own tonight and we have the evening at leisure to explore this historic maritime town. Breakfast and lunch included.
Small boat scenic cruise: approx. 6-8 hours.
Meals: B, L
Day 5: Travel north to Talkeetna. Take an optional scenic flight over Denali.
Bidding farewell to the Kenai Peninsula, we set out from Seward and begin the drive north towards the Alaska Range and magnificent Denali National Park. We stop along the way to enjoy the changing landscape and stretch our legs during a short hike before arriving in the small, historic town of Talkeetna this afternoon. Because of its proximity to Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), Talkeetna acts as a base for many climbers attempting to summit the imposing mountain, one of the world’s “seven summits”. Those interested in mountaineering have time to visit the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum containing exhibits that recap the dramatic climbing history of Denali. Those wanting a closer look can take an optional flightseeing excursion over the mountain itself, on clear days offering a bird's-eye view of the highest peak in North America. Overnight in a small hotel near Talkeetna tonight. All meals included.
Driving time: 5 hours; hiking: approx. 2 miles with minimal elevation gain/loss.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 6: Hike up to Kesugi Ridge in Denali State Park.
An hour’s drive transports us to Denali State Park from where today’s hike begins. Switchbacking up through forests of birch and spruce, past glacial lakes and wildflower meadows, we ultimately leave the forest behind and enter the tundra, stretching like a spongy carpet for miles in all directions. Although the ascent is steep at times, our payoff comes when we reach Kesugi Ridge where, on a clear day, we have unobstructed views of 20,320-foot Denali. After refueling with some lunch and returning to the trailhead, we climb back in our vehicle for the drive to our lodge near Denali National Park. We spend the next two days exploring the park and discovering this magnificent Alaskan wilderness. All meals included.
Driving time: 2.5 hours; hiking: 6.2 miles with 2,000’ of elevation gain/loss.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 7: Discover the remarkable landscapes and wildlife of Denali National Park.
Today’s journey into Denali National Park is certain to be a memorable one. Making use of the park’s efficient shuttle system, we travel deep into the backcountry en route to Eielson Visitor Center, 60 miles down the park road. As we drive, we relish the wilderness panoramas and keep our eyes peeled for some of Denali’s iconic wildlife including moose, Dall sheep, caribou and, of course, grizzly bear. This classic road trip into the park has been referred to as a North American safari. This day also offers another opportunity to see Denali itself; if the weather is clear, the mountain will be visible from various points along the park road. Those of us who prefer to hike can forego the ride and follow our guide on a hike near the park entrance. We regroup for dinner this evening at a local brewpub and share stories of our day’s adventures. All meals included.
Driving time: Approx. 8 hours (roundtrip to Eielson Visitor Center); optional hike, approx. 5 miles with 1,900’ of elevation gain/loss.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 8: Hike through the Denali landscape to a secluded backcountry lake.
Our final day in the magical Denali wilderness leads us down a trail with views of the snow-capped Alaska Range to a tranquil backcountry lake. After breakfast at our lodge, we drive a short distance to the trailhead. We begin our hike up and over a ridgeline, eventually dropping down to one of the trail’s namesake lakes. As we walk along the shoreline appreciating the solitude and connection with the landscape, we may spot some moose tracks or signs of beaver activity nearby. Although our time in this 4.7-million-acre park and preserve is drawing to an end, traces of what we’ve seen during our time here will be indelibly etched into our memories. This evening, we enjoy a delicious dinner at 229 Parks restaurant. We’ll celebrate great adventures and newfound friendships. All meals included.
Hiking: 11 miles with 1,000’ of elevation gain/loss.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 9: Return to Anchorage via a scenic train trip on the Alaska Railroad.
We say goodbye to our guides at the Denali rail station this morning before boarding the Alaska Railroad Denali Star train for the trip back to Anchorage. During the 7.5-hour ride, we can take in the scenery from our seats through the oversized windows or head into the open seating Vista Dome car, offering glass dome ceilings for a panoramic perspective of the passing landscape. Lunch is on our own today but a variety of options are available for purchase on the Denali Star. We arrive at Anchorage train depot on 1st Avenue at 8pm this evening. We can choose to spend the night in town or schedule a departing flight any time after 11pm. Breakfast included.
Meals: B



  • Professional guide leadership
  • 8 nights lodging
  • all meals from lunch on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 9 except for dinner on Day 4
  • all ground transfers as noted on the daily itinerary
  • glacier/wildlife cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alyeska Tram ticket
  • boat ride on Skilak Lake
  • Denali National Park bus ticket
  • Alaska Railroad Denali Star train ticket
  • park entrance/permit fees
  • Accommodation

    Small hotels and lodges, 8 nights

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