Curry Ridge is located in Denali State Park and offers incredible views of Denali, wildflowers, rolling tundra, and alpine lakes.
If you’re looking for a day hike in Denali State Park then Curry Ridge Trail is a great option. This hiking trail gradually climbs above the treeline and provides plenty of incredible photo ops of Denali along the way.
Curry Ridge, previously known as K’esugi Ken (base of the ancient one), is a new trail that starts from the K’esugi Ken Campground, just 1/4 miles north of the Denali South Viewpoint.
In this post, I’m going to share how to hike Curry Ridge Trail in Denali State Park, Alaska.
Hike Curry Ridge in Denali State Park
Traditional Land: Ahtna, Dena’ina (Visit Native-Land.ca to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)
Distance: 6.5 miles
Time: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,023 feet
- Bring bug spray. The mosquitoes are savage.
- Wear sun protection.
- Bring cash. Day parking is $5.
- Water is limited.
- Be bear aware.
How to get to Curry Ridge Trail
- From Anchorage, head north on the Glenn Highway
- Follow the Glenn Highway for 136 miles
- Turn right towards the K’esugi Ken Campground
- Park in the day-use parking lot
Through K’esugi Ken Campground
The Curry Ridge Trail starts from the K’esugi Ken Campground in Denali State Park. We stayed at the campground for a few days and started the hike right from our campsite.
We decided to hike later in the afternoon to avoid the heat. Being mid-June, the temperature was in the low 70’s F and you could just feel the sun blazing down. By the time we started hiking, it was cloudy and drizzling a little bit. It felt a lot cooler, which was perfect for us Alaskans.
We followed a trail through the campground until we reached the official start of the trail. You will find many wooden posts that will point you in the right direction.
As we walked into the forest it became humid and muggy. Then the mosquitoes appeared in swarms! We continually sprayed bug spray but the mosquitoes were resilient. I’m still itching my mosquito bites two days later…
For the first half-mile of the hike you will follow a well-maintained gravel trail. The trail meanders through the forest and you can still hear cars driving the road as you walk the first part.
Read more: What to Wear Hiking in Alaska
Gradually Climb Curry Ridge
You will quickly reach a small, wooden footbridge. After crossing the bridge, you’ll start to notice the gradual incline and will soon reach the start of the switchbacks.
The switchbacks make the climb up Curry Ridge a lot easier, and it’s even suitable for kids. You’ll even find a couple of small streams for your pup to cool off in.
Views of Denali
The best part about hiking Curry Ridge Trail is the incredible views of Denali. As you climb the ridge, you’ll see Denali peek out in between the gaps in the trees. I think I stopped every five minutes to take another photo. It was beautiful.
When you’re not marveling up at Denali, you can gaze down at all of the beautiful wildflowers that can be found all the way up to the top of the trail.
Top of Rocky Knob
As you near the top, you will see a sign that says Rocky Knob 1 mile to the left or 2 miles to the right. We decided to go left but both directions will take you to the same place.
In just over three miles, you will reach the top of Rocky Knob, which currently marks the end of Curry Ridge. You’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the surrounding rolling tundra and Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America.
The views are just incredible, especially when the skies are clear, which is not always the case. We definitely had clouds blocking our view of Denali, but we were lucky the mountain was popping off while we stayed at the K’esugi Ken Campground.
At the top of the ridge, you will see a small lake. This is Lake 1787 and you’ll have to hike another 0.5 miles to reach it. You’ll see plenty of spots for wild camping in this area but make sure you don’t camp within 1/2 mile of the lake and be mindful of the sensitive landscape as you set up camp.
Beyond Curry Ridge
The hike out and back will take you around three hours to complete. The current trail ends at the Lake 1787 area, but it’s possible to connect to K’esugi Ridge, which is a great backpacking trip in Denali State Park.
Curry Ridge Trail also connects to the Moose Flats Loop Trail, a half-mile, wheelchair-accessible loop that starts at the day-use parking lot near the K’esugi Ken Campground. This is one of the easiest trails in the area and offers a stunning view of Denali.
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Do you have any questions on hiking Curry Ridge in Denali State Park? Let me know in the comments.