“Summit Mt. Healy from the Bison Gulch trailhead”
— Bryan Brown
Fall Colors · Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This is the shortest and steepest romp up to Mount Healy's summit. Expect gorgeous views as you traverse the ridge to the summit, but be prepared for heavy wind and, depending on timing, snow and ice. This is one of my favorite runs in Denali!
Need to Know
This trail is both extremely strenuous and exposed! Be prepared for gusts strong enough to physically shift you off of the trail at times! Additionally, unless in the heat of the summer season, expect ice and snow near the summit, which involves a fair bit of scrambling. The final push to the rocky peak can be very dangerous if gusts, snow, or ice are present. However, the views and experience are incredible!
Start off by crossing the road from the Bison Gulch pullout and embarking up the obvious trail. The angle steepens within the first few meters and never really lets up, save for the occasional brief reprieve. The first mile is the most continuously steep portion of the run, during which you''ll navigate the most well-worn parts of the trail, passing through alpine shrubbery and open field. At the top of the first climb, the remainder of your route will come into focus and you'll be able to see the ridge line that you'll traverse up to the summit.
The trail levels out briefly and gives your legs a little break before it kicks back and you begin to tackle the steep ridge line. From this point to the summit, the transparency of the trail will vary substantially, but as long as you continue up the ridge, you can't really deviate too far. This is also the point during which the wind will start to pick up. During my push, I was slammed with consistently strong winds from here to the summit, with occasional gusts strong enough to cause me to lose my footing. Be very cautious along the ridge line, as there are sections with nary more than a meter on either side of the trail before the decline become precipitous.
As you continue up the ridge line, you'll pass the occasional exposed cliff to offer a shield from the elements. Keep pushing up toward the summit as it comes into view, and you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views in every direction. The summit itself is a large rocky outcrop that can be surmounted without technical equipment. From our approach, the easiest path up the block is around the southern side, but I would urge extreme caution when evaluating the conditions (wind, ice, snow). Though not technical, the final push requires attentive route finding and careful footing; a slip here could have drastic consequences. Be judicious when considering these factors and enjoy the final romp up to the summit! You're rewarded with indescribable views and complete solitude.
Follow the same trail back down for your descent and prepare your knees for 3.5 miles of downhill fun!