The second half of our first full day in Alaska involved driving from the Trapper Creek hotspot called Wal*Mikes to the McKinley Creekside Cabins where we are to spend our second night a few miles outside the entrance to Denali National Park. In between these two "rural boom towns" is Denali State Park. Located adjacent to the southern border of Denali National Park, the 324,240-acre Denali State Park is the fourth largest state park in Alaska and almost half the size of Rhode Island! We talked to people who drove right through the park and completely missed it because so much of the land along the George Parks Highway is undeveloped. This park is not to be missed. Anywhere else, this park would be a state's crown jewel.
We didn't get to spend a lot of time in Denali State Park but we did take a few hours out to hike the 5.3 mile loop trail around Byers Lake.
Although it was still August, it was early fall in Alaska and the grasses had started to turn from green to a beautiful shade of yellow. The Aspen and Cottonwoods had just started to turn and would continue to get prettier as we spent more time in Alaska.
|Byers Lake Outflow|
|There are Loons Out There!|
A group of kayakers paddled by shortly after we got there. No motorized boats or float planes are allowed on the lake. Most of the time all we could hear was the lapping of water on the shore.
The lake used to contain a sizable population of lake trout but due to over fishing the population has dwindled. We were surprised to see Salmon in the shallows around the lake shore. The water was so clear that it was easy to see them from the lake shore trail. Looked like one could reach down an grab one.
|Mushrooms and Byers Lake Trail|
About two thirds of the way around the lake we heard our first Loons. Their beautiful calls were clear but we couldn't see them. It reminded us of Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond --"The loons! The loons! They're welcoming us back." We later saw them far off on the lake. These are beautiful birds with such a beautiful call.
Other sites around the lake included the Byers Cascades and Beeman's Cabin, which was built in 1959. The cabin was probably a great place to stay at one time but it is being slowly reclaimed by the forest.
Tomorrow we head into Denali National Park and our first Bush Plane flight.