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Horseshoe Lake – Denali National Park
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Overview
Location

Denali National Park, Alaska

Sights

Horseshoe Lake, wildlife

Distance

About 2 miles round trip

Parking Lot Elevation

1787 ft

Summit Elevation

1542 ft

Elevation Gain/Loss

245 ft

Time Required

1 1/2 hours roundtrip

Pets

Not allowed on trail

Fees

None

Water Info

Bring 1 liter of water

Best Season

Summer

Hours

N/A

Sun Exposure

Many trees, sun exposure is minimal

Trail Condition

Trail is very clear and maintained

Restrooms

None

Visitor Center

N/A

Camping

Not allowed

Food

Bring some snacks

Equipment

Good hiking shoes, light jacket, bug spray

GPS Coordinates

Trailhead: 63°44’12.39″N, 148°54’54.92″W
Horseshoe Lake: 63°44’32.84″N, 148°54’33.49″W

Trail Map


Driving Directions


The Trail:

Horseshoe Lake

This is a short hike located right at the entrance to Denali National Park.  Horseshoe Lake is so named because the lake is shaped, well, like a horseshoe.

Horseshoe Lake

The parking lot is located a few feet from the rail tracks and the trail follows the tracks for a few hundred feet until you cross over to the other side.

Horseshoe LakeYou will see several signs that point you to Horseshoe Lake or the Mt. Healy Overlook trail.  Simply cross over the tracks and follow the trail down the hill to the lake.

Horseshoe Lake

For much of the hike you will have decent views of Horseshoe Lake from above so take advantage and get some good pictures.


Horseshoe Lake

The trail is well maintained and I have seen people with just about all types of skill levels hiking.  There is a steep area that features over a hundred steps but if you take your time you will be able to get down and up this area without a problem.

Horseshoe Lake

I have seen beaver and moose on this hike and I’m sure you will have a good chance seeing wildlife also.  I also so countless squirrels scurrying about the ground and they seem rather tame and aren’t afraid if you approach close to them.

Horseshoe Lake


Horseshoe Lake

Once you get down from the steep area you will cross over several small wooden bridges that allow passage over creeks.  You will curve around and finally arrive at the lake.

Horseshoe Lake

The lake is beautiful and you can probably see arctic greyling fish jumping from the water.  If you come at the right time you may even see a train go by on top towards the west side.

The  new trail continues around the entire lake and ends back where you first came down from above.  I recommend doing the entire lake trail as you may have chances to see moose and beaver.  Along this route you get to see the Nenana River up close and you cross over a few more wooden bridges.

Horseshoe LakeHorseshoe Lake

Horseshoe LakeHorseshoe LakeHorseshoe LakeHorseshoe Lake

This lake is even more beautiful during fall months!

Horseshoe Lake Horseshoe Lake Horseshoe Lake


The Return:

Head back towards the parking lot.


Personal Thoughts:

This hike is a great and quick way to get outside and enjoy the outdoors if you are short on time.  It is still very close to Glitter Gulch (the area in Denali with all the shops and hotels) so if you happen to be staying at one of the Denali accommodations you should find time to see Horseshoe Lake.

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Ratings (out of 10)
Trek Planner Rating
User Rating
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Difficulty
3.0
Technicality
1.5
Enjoyment
6.0
The Bottom Line

Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek.  If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

6.5
Trek Planner Rating
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About The Author
Jeff Johnson
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you! JeffTJohnson@ymail.com

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