The National Park Service (NPS) has proposed constructing approximately 17 miles of trail in the front country of Denali National Park in Alaska. The proposed area for trail development is the non-wilderness area of the park between the George Parks Highway and the Nenana River on the eastern margin of Denali National Park.
The proposed development includes 8 miles of multi-use trail roughly parallel to the George Parks Highway and 9 miles of hiking-only trail primarily following the Nenana River. Two of the 17 miles are designated for universal accessibility, and a pedestrian and bicycle bridge crossing Riley Creek will connect the trail system to the existing Riley Creek Day Use area at the Park Road entrance.
According to the NPS, trail development in this frontcountry, non-wilderness area of the park was initially proposed in the late 1990s and has been discussed several times during broad-scope trails and transportation planning efforts. Although the area of the park between the George Parks Highway and the Nenana River is easily accessible and close to other infrastructure, large portions retain a primarily natural setting.
The purpose of providing developed recreational opportunities here is to encourage many visitors to interact with the park’s landscape in a way that does not depend on access to the Park Road and does not impact the wilderness. In addition to expanding what is available to park visitors, these developed recreational opportunities are also intended to enhance multimodal connections to the park and increase universally accessible recreational opportunities in Denali.
The NPS is inviting members of the public to provide comments on the Nenana River Trails Environmental Assessment (EA) between March 1-30, 2023.
Written comments can be submitted online at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) site during the public comment period. Comments can also be mailed to the park by March 30.
Two informational meetings about the EA will be held, one in person and one virtual, with the same information presented at both meetings. The in-person meeting will be held on Thursday, March 9, from 6-7:30 pm at the Murie Science and Learning Center in Denali National Park. The virtual meeting will be held on Friday, March 10, from 6-7:30 pm. The NPS anticipates a final decision in spring 2023, with possible project implementation beginning as early as summer 2023.
The proposed 17 miles of trails in the frontcountry of Denali National Park could provide valuable new opportunities for outdoor recreation. The proposed trails could include both hiking-only trails and multi-use trails, providing options for various outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, two miles of the trails are designed to be universally accessible, providing even more opportunities for people of all abilities to enjoy the outdoors.
The proposed pedestrian and bicycle bridge crossing Riley Creek would also increase access to the existing Riley Creek Day Use area, making it easier for visitors to explore the park’s natural beauty.
The development of these trails would not only expand the recreational opportunities available to visitors but also increase multimodal connections to the park, making it more accessible to people who may not have access to the Park Road.