Denali National Park: Mount Wright

This 4.7-mile out-and-back climbs to the expansive, 4,275-foot summit of Mount Wright for endless views of the Alaska Range and Denali National Park.
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This 4.7-mile out-and-back climbs to the expansive, 4,275-foot summit of Mount Wright for endless views of the Alaska Range and Denali National Park.

Perfect for dayhikers staying at the Sanctuary River Campground or backpackers short on time, this moderate 4.7-mile out-and-back climbs through lush spruce forest to a spacious summit with 360-degree views. The hike starts on the west side of the Sanctuary River next to the bridge. Follow the narrow social trail that winds northwest through dense and mossy forest. The path parallels a seasonal creek for the first 0.4 mile.
After half a mile, the forest opens and views of Mount Wright's long ridgeline appear directly to the north. Find a flat spot to set up camp, or continue heading west, picking your way through the wet and spongy tundra on a network of social trails. At mile 0.6 (just east of a set of 3 small lakes), bear right and hike north through dense brush and conifers (make sure to yell "Hey Bear!").
Half a mile later, the route ascends past treeline into tundra and continues to climb. After 1.5 miles, crest a false summit—the rest of the expansive summit pops into view here—and head northwest another 0.7 mile to the official summit. Spend some time on this grassy mountain top savoring views of the Alaska Range before starting the return trip to the Sanctuary River bridge.
Note: There is no established trail system in Denali's backcountry. Map and compass skills are required.

PERMIT: Overnight camping in Denali National Park requires a backcountry permit. Check out the latest fees and more details at nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/bcpermits.htm.
MORE PARK INFO: Denali National Park, (907) 683-2294; nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm.
ZONE INFORMATION: Unit 27.
-Mapped by Kim Phillips and Matt Vellone

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 7.6

Waypoints

WRT001

Location: 63.722607, -149.476227

This 4.7-mile hike starts on the west side of the Sanctuary River next to the bridge. Follow the narrow social trail that heads northwest through lush and mossy spruce forest.

WRT002

Location: 63.724041, -149.490312

The trail leaves the thick forest and enters wet and spongy tundra. Follow the network of social trails to the west. Backpackers: Find a flat spot to set up camp.

WRT003

Location: 63.723808, -149.492437

Bear right and head north through thick brush and conifers. A set of 3 small lakes lie directly to the west. Look north for up-close views of Mount Wright.

WRT004

Location: 63.726797, -149.493226

The climb starts to steepen here.

WRT005

Location: 63.727456, -149.493628

Stop in the small clearing and turn around for views of the Alaska Range.

WRT006

Location: 63.729973, -149.493038

Look up for views of rock outcrops that dot the false summit.

WRT007

Location: 63.73012, -149.492952

Pass a potential campsite.

WRT008

Location: 63.736663, -149.490323

Crest the false summit and continue climbing north (the rest of the expansive summit comes into view here).

WRT009

Location: 63.74119, -149.494094

Pass one of several sets of boulders that make good wind shelters. Head northwest to reach the official summit.

WRT010

Location: 63.743895, -149.504353

Mount Wright (4,275 ft.): The official summit, according to USGS topo maps, is actually a nondescript point on this extremely broad mountaintop. Head east for more views across the Sanctuary River.

WRT011

Location: 63.744941, -149.495087

From this vantage point above the Sanctuary River drainage, you'll get prime views of Primrose Ridge to the northeast. From here, head south and retrace your route back to the Sanctuary River bridge.

Sanctuary River

Location: 63.722664, -149.475646

Brushy Trail

Location: 63.724079, -149.490028

Mount Wright

Location: 63.724062, -149.490135

Views to the East

Location: 63.724043, -149.490243

Camp

Location: 63.723751, -149.491433

Lake

Location: 63.724411, -149.492984

Views to the South

Location: 63.726976, -149.493209

Trail Views

Location: 63.727465, -149.493467

False Summit

Location: 63.731182, -149.493423

Views of the Teklanika River Valley

Location: 63.732154, -149.494353

Teklanika River

Location: 63.732154, -149.494353

Views to the Southeast

Location: 63.732389, -149.494848

Wildflowers

Location: 63.733992, -149.491399

Views to the Southeast

Location: 63.734086, -149.491167

Views from Mount Wright

Location: 63.738342, -149.491759

Boulder

Location: 63.73938, -149.49114

Summit Views of Primrose Ridge

Location: 63.744918, -149.494629

Mount Wright

Location: 63.744957, -149.494943