This long, 9.5 mile (one-way) lightly trafficked trail is rated as difficult, but probably only because of the length. If you’re looking for a less-traveled trail in Denali, this is a great scenic day-hike that’s well maintained and no too hard.
You can start at the north or south end, and arrange either for a shuttle to take you back, or hike back to where you started. There is a moderate incline that is gradual, but will get your heart pumping, with the acme in the middle—expect to hike uphill-downhill whether you start from the north or south end.
The trail runs along a river and, as its name suggests, brings you along three lakes, with great views of the Denali ranges across the valleys, as well as the famous vegetation of Denali. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot moose or caribou. The trail is well-maintained, with wooden pathways over the wetter areas, including a suspension bridge at one point that carries you across a raging river.
The trail runs from the visitor center to mile marker 230.
Duration (one-way): 4 to 5 hours
Elevation change: 1,000 feet
Other great hikes nearby are the Rock Creek Interpretive Hike, which is a shorter hike, or the Steps Thru Time Hike, a guided hike through the Denali Park where you’ll see incredible views of the open Alaska landscape with a knowledgeable tour guide by your side along the way.