Backpack Kesugi Ridge



27.4 miles

Elevation Gain

4650 ft

Route Type


Added by Saul Jacob

Backpack across Alaska's Kesugi Ridge with sweeping views of Denali and the Alaska Range.

Kesugi Ridge is a 27.4 mile point-to-point trail from Little Coal Creek to Byer's Lake in Alaska's Denali State Park. To get to the trailhead from Anchorage, take the Park's Highway north to the parking area at Little Coal Creek Trailhead at milepost 163.9.

The trail quickly climbs about 1,750 feet in the first 3.3 miles up to the ridge before starting the traverse. After another 10.8 miles, the trail intersects with the Ermine Hill Trail, which leads back to the highway (milepost 156.5) and can cut the trail short. After the intersection, the trail descends back down to the forest before climbing up another 2,000 feet to get back on the ridge again. Pay close attention to where the cairns are, as it can be easy to get lost.

Continue on until ending at Byer's Lake  at milepost 147.  The southernmost terminus at Troublesome Creek would make it a 36.2 mile trip, but has been closed the last few years.

No permits are required for this hike but you should call ahead to find out about trail conditions. If you're coming from Anchorage, stop off in Talkeetna for a celebratory beer on your way back! 

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1st time bliss, 2nd time too hot to enjoy.

First time on Kesugi was at the end of September in 2018. We started at Little Coal Creek, stayed for two nights, and headed out at Ermine Hill. Denali was in full view the WHOLE time, we had the most amazing sunsets and sunrises, and the fall colors made everything so much better. It got chilly, but not too cold to be uncomfortable, with a little breeze at night. We slept in warm clothing, and had warm sleeping bags(15°f rating). I ended up getting hot during the night, in my one person tent, but my friends got cold in their two person tent. In the end we all agreed it was the best time of year to backpack it and was just an all around amazing time, I don't even remember bugs bothering us. The second time we went was Independence weekend of 2019. We completed the whole trail in two days, starting again from Little Coal Creek and ending at Byers Lake. That weekend we broke our highest temperature on record in AK, hitting the 90s and 100° in the sun. There are no trees for shade once you are on top of the ridge, which is 90% of the hike. Knowing this I brought an umbrella for shade, and sunscreen is a must, my friends all got burned not wearing any. Again, Denali was in full view the entire time, with a scorching blue cloudless sky. We didn't use our sleeping bags because we woke up sweating. No mosquito problems, but swarms of flies come when you start cooking. Fill up on water where you can, on the second half of the trail there is a long stretch with water sources too far off the trail to refill.

almost 3 years ago

Incredible views + incredible amounts of bugs

The ridge has been our favorite hike while in Alaska. The views start almost immediately of Denali. Excellent workout including strong uphill and down hill sections with flat ridge line relaxing sections. Berries and fresh water everywhere. BRING BUG SPRAY and be prepared to be swarmed anyways. That is our only complaint.


Saw Denali multiple times and had a great time and weather.

57 total saves


Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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