Wild and Trailless – Denali National Park

It wasn’t easy to decide to post some route info and GPS data from my backcountry trips in Denali National Park. The National Park Service asks specifically not to share GPS tracks socially. It’s probably the only rule I’ve broken when it comes to the park. So, why am I doing it?

Why Share?

First of all, several books describe and map these routes in the park already. I’m not putting out totally new information. I remain committed to not posting any hiking or backcountry travel or photo location information that is not readily available in some form. I’m also not the only one putting out this information online, bringing me to my next point: I aim to be a source strongly advocating for responsible travel and Leave No Trace ethics. I ask that users not follow my exact tracks (I often won’t post exact GPS tracks for off-trail routes to avoid a trail becoming developed, but others may use them as a guide to planning a responsible trip.

I believe trailless areas should remain trailless. That means people need not to share and follow the exact track. For my guides, this might mean not sharing exact GPS tracks for routes but a general description of the area and direction. Occasionally, I may share the exact route information for sections where safety may be of concern, like traveling over a tricky ridge, narrow pass, or stream crossing.

My goal is to enable people to enjoy and protect the wilderness. I hope this content can drown out the massive amount of other information out there with no educational value. Unfortunately, most visitors to these wild places and National Parks are unaware of how to minimize their impact on the environment and have never heard of Leave No Trace. I make sure to include this information and links in every guide post so that anyone using this guide will see it.

Probably one of the biggest draws to hike in the Denali National Park is that, without trails, every trip is truly unique. Most of my hikes there have started with a guide or route description and have led me toward whatever I find most interesting when I finally get there. This is what I encourage others to do. Find your own path!

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The Leave No Trace Seven Principles

Plan Ahead and Prepare
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Respect Wildlife
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.

If we all work to abide by these principles, we ensure that these places can be enjoyed by many more generations of hikers and travelers after us. For those backcountry camping in Denali National Park, you will have to go through their backcountry orientation, highlighting many of these principles. You may not get your first choice of a zone to camp in, so often, you need backup ideas and plans for hikes.

Keeping it Wild

If I ever feel my guide is negatively influencing an area, I may revise or remove GPS data. So please help me keep the wilderness wild. Please try to avoid hiking on social trails. Stay on marked trails if you are on a trailed route. Try to stay on durable surfaces. Be hyper-aware of wildlife and note that if an animal is changing its behavior because of your presence, you are too close. Keep a clean campsite. Again, always adhere to the Leave No Trace Seven Principles.

Endless hills to explore in the Polychrome Region

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