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"One of the focuses of the park is to provide hiking opportunities. These vary from  
the regularly maintained trail around Byers Lake to back country routes like  
the trail around Troublesome Creek that receive very little maintenance attention
so that hikers must be familiar with map-reading skills to stay on route . . .
Except for roadside facilities, the park is essentially a wilderness."
~ from the Denali State Park website
Because of the near-constant light rain and ever-present low clouds the last three days the only trails we've explored at Denali State Park are the ones around the lake -- and I didn't even get all the way around it (about five miles) because of all the mud and standing water and the fact that I don't like to hike in the rain as much as I used to like to run in the rain.

In better weather the park offers great hiking opportunities, with trails ranging in difficulty from easy to very hard and one-way distances from under a mile to 36 miles (even more if you combine trails).

A view of Byers Lake from the Lakeside Trail

There is a map and list of all the trails at the link above.

The photos in this entry are ones I took on three shorter hikes (one to three miles) along and above the lake. There are 36 of them on this one page, which may take some time to load if you have a slow internet connection.


After we arrived at Byers Lake Campground and got settled in three days ago, Jim joined Cody and me for an evening walk from our campground to the lake. We looped back on a different trail so we cold see the old cabin below.

Here are some photos from that hike:

Jim looks out over the misty lake; K'esugi Ridge is in the distance, barely visible.


The Beeman family homesteaded here year-round in the 1950s-60s before there was road access nearby.

Since there was a well-worn path around the cabin, it's obvious no one pays attention to the sign!

We didn't go inside. I took this picture through a window.

Above and below:  early energy-efficient construction = sod roof
and earth-sheltered walls built into the hillside

The cabin is in a very scenic location with views of the lake but I imagine life was difficult here, even in the summer.


On my second hike Cody and I explored an upper and a lower trail above the northeast end of the lake. I waited until evening again, hoping the sun would come out. As if.

My intention was to reach the bridge across the lake outlet but I didn't get that far because of wet, gnarly trail full of mud, puddles, and slick roots. I turned around and did a loop on the trail right next to the lake before returning to the campground. The trail along the lake was easier to negotiate.

As you can see, it was still misty and/or raining.

Cody notices something down toward the lake.

Above and below:  the micro-climate around the lake is rain forest.
Note the long, dripping moss hanging from the trees.







Sometimes the trail is almost IN the lake.


< Sigh>  It's still raining today, the third day in a row. Itís on-again-off-again light rain Ė but completely overcast, wet, and chilly. It remained in the low 50s F. all day and didnít clear up during the day or evening.

Mid-afternoon I took Cody for a 1+ hour walk through the campground and along the west end of the lake. We hadnít been that way before.



Area where kayaks and canoes can be rented

Part of the trail that goes around the lake is a jeep road that accesses two public use cabins on the opposite side of the lake from the campground. Park personnel can use the road to maintain the cabins and trail but I don't think visitors can drive vehicles other than bicycles over there.

I didnít continue around because I didnít plan on that long of a hike. If it was drier, itíd be a good place for Jim to ride his bike. 


The 4WD road (L) continues to one of the public use cabins; the trail
on the right continues around the lake. I turned around here today.

It was raining lightly the whole time I was out today so I didnít open the camera much. The clouds were the lowest yet over K'esugi Ridge.

Some folks were fishing, boating, and hiking despite the rain. In Southcentral and even Interior Alaska you just have to deal with the wet weather in the summer if you want to do any recreational activities. Rain happens. That's why there are so many lush plants.


Since it was overcast, misty, and/or raining each day when I went out to hike at Byers Lake my long-distance views were rather limited. That helped me to focus my mind and camera on more of the details of the trees and other plants close to me in this rain forest environment.

I've shown lots of wildflowers from other settings. In this section I'll focus on five of the types of berries I saw, some unusual mushrooms, one kind of fern (there are several), and two attractive paper bark birches.

Just scroll through the pictures and enjoy; I don't know most of the types of berries or mushrooms.




Here's one I know -- dogwood AKA bunchberry

There were also some bright orange berries but I haven't shown them here.

Ferns carpet much of the ground in the forest near and above the lake.



Is that cool or what??  It reminds me of an uncooked egg.




Above and below:  paper bark birch trunks come in a variety of pretty colors.

Despite all the rain and gloom we do have a favorable impression of Denali State Park and the Byers Lake Campground and can recommend to others that they pay a visit to this area.

Someday I'd like to go back and hike more of the park's trails, especially up on Curry and K'esugi Ridges -- when the sky is clear enough to see the mountains and glaciers in the Alaska Range. And I know Jim would enjoy cycling on some of the trails if they were drier.

Next entrythe impressive POW-MIA rest area and Alaska Veterans' Memorial at Denali State Park

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

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© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil