My original plan was to do Kesugi Ridge and add Upper Troublesome Creek for a 4 night/5 day trek. For the website, I was going to camp near the intersection of Kesugi Ridge and Ermine Hill and quickly head down to the highway and back up so I could give definitive information on the trail. However, the weather was horrible and instead I just did this as a day hike. Unfortunately, since it was a crappy day, I didn't get to see Denali (your chances are 30% on any give day - don't say I didn't warn you) but it was a nice pleasant hike nonetheless.
For those who don't have the time, skill, and/or physical capabilities to do the whole Kesugi Ridge Trail, this is a great alternative. You still get to see Denali (fairly quickly, I might add) and at the end of the trail, you can explore the cool rock formations along the hills and along the Kesugi Trail before it descends down into the valley.
The trail is relatively easy and would be a great hike to take the kids as I think most would get a kick out of playing around the rocks.
Unless you're a serious "A" personality, I see no reason to shorten the trip by using the root stair shortcut. You only save a 1/2 mile and the potential for a slip and fall looks high.
You'd have to do a lot of bushwhacking to actually get to the lake's shoreline for water. Bring an adequate supply. If you do get water from the lake, I would filter as there is a lot of algae growing in it.
You could roundtrip this in a little over 2 hours but I would pack a lunch and plan on exploring time.
Byers Lake is a great campground but can be buggy.
A traverse can be made of any length (see below) and/or direction with Kesugi Ridge and the Upper Troublesome Creek Trail.
|Coal Creek||Ermine Hill||Byers Lake||Troublesome|
There are various companies offering shuttles that can drop you off and pick you up at the various trailheads. Expect to pay $40-$75.