In October 2015, Wilderness Watch submitted scoping comments on a proposed trail planning process for Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska, most of the which is either designated Wilderness or suitable for designation. We disagree with the Park Service’s rationale for abandoning its “no formal trails policy” and urge the Park Service to instead retain and implement this policy, which allows wilderness visitors to freely wander and explore Denali’s vast open tundra and subalpine landscape.
Unfortunately, there has been a recent trend of installing structures and building trails in the Denali Wilderness. The agency is citing the proliferation of social trails as a rationale for building more formal trails. The Park Service should instead follow its Backcountry Management Plan’s process for preventing social trails and restoring damaged lands in the Park.
The Park Service has a legal responsibility to preserve the wilderness character of Denali. The “no formal trails policy” has helped protect this special place for over 35 years and must be continued.