“Loop trail very nice views and impressive granite tors.”
— Boaz Feldboim
Features: Birding — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Main attractions are: granite tors, alpine tundra and views of the Alaska Range and the Chena River Valley.
Find the trailhead near Granite Tors Campground Day-Use Area at milepost 39.5 of Chena Hot Springs Road.
The trail is very well recognizable. There are poles that mark the miles. The recommended direction of travel is clockwise because there is a more gradual ascent than in the other direction. At the the bulletin board located at the trailhead, go left. Then there are boardwalks that will lead runners through black spruce and over a bog. After a short distance you'll cross Rock Creek. After some more short distance you’ll get to a boardwalk going to the right. It allows the option of a two mile loop if you're not up for the full trail.
On the 15 mile loop, you'll ascend through black spruce forest and cross 2 saddles. From there you'll reach a forested area that was burned in 2004. Rock cairns will then mark the trail until you'll get to an alpine meadow near the trail shelter.
That's where the east trail ends. From this point the trail is less developed. Wooden tripods mark the trail that crosses wet areas bringing you to the tors on the Plain of Monuments. Again, follow rock cairns through numerous tors.
Tors are rock formations that emerge from the ground. They were created millions of years ago when molten rock pushed upwards inside the earth and cooled before it reached the surface. Erosion then exposed the tors which are more resistant to erosion than the surrounding material.
The west trail begins near mile 9. Go through a spruce and alder forested saddle and climb to a barren ridge top. After that you'll lose more elevation and see some more tors. This will be the the last group of tors, so you may want to snap a few photos if you don't already have a few.
You'll then go through a wooded saddle and begin a steep descent through black spruce. You'll then arrive to a boardwalk that will take you along Rock Creek. The trail then returns to the starting point.
Some parts of the trail are steep and rocky and requires you to be careful. Suitable footwear is essential. During certain weather conditions visibility can be poor which will make it difficult to follow the trail signs.