Savage Alpine Trail to Savage River
(4 miles, +1,400/-1,600 feet).
Today we had a full day for hiking so we decided to try something bit more challenging. The farthest you can drive on your own into Denali National Park is Savage River, and there is a trail that starts a couple of miles away, climbs to 4,000 feet, and traverses a beautiful tundra-draped hillside with views of the Alaska Range to the south before dropping back down. Some people do this trail as a there-and-back, but we decided to catch the bus at Savage River back to our car at the trailhead.
We brought our rainjackets expecting it to be wet like yesterday. But instead we needed them to break the wind! Gusts up to about 40 miles an hour tested our ability to cling to some of the ridges!
The trail follows a stream up a beautiful ravine until it climbs above treeline. I stopped to get some water but it was kind of silty here.
The wildflowers in the tundra ranged from pink to purple to gold to white, everywhere seizing the brief few weeks when they are free of snow.
The traverse led us to a wide bowl that sits above the Savage River. The wind died down considerably once we got into it, and there were beautiful snowfields to cross. We even sampled some pristine water coming strait from the snowmelt.
Once we were done with the bowl we were once again on a beautiful, if blustery, exposed ridge. It led us to a series of rocky outcrops that would step all the way down to the river
Once down we crossed the river to catch the hourly shuttle back to our car. What a wonderful hike!