The Horseshoe trail at Denali National Park is a must-do for every visitor. Lined with towering trees and offering stunning views of Horseshoe Lake trail. This trail is very well-maintained.
The trailhead is at Denali Park Road at Mile 1, which is easy to access by car. You can park the car in the nearby parking lot or at the Denali National Park Visitor Center.
This was a new addition to our Denali National Park itinerary at the last minute given it’s close proximity to the check in and great views.
It’s a pretty easy hike so it’s better suited for beginner hikers rather than experts. But with the excellent views, expert hikers usually enjoy this hike as well.
From there the bike path or Traiga Trail will lead you to the Horseshoe Trail.
Ensure you’ve bringing all the right accessories with our Denali packing checklist.
Table of Contents
Horseshoe Lake Trail Map
See Related: Best Hotels in Denali
What To Know About Hiking the Horseshoe Lake Trail
From the trailhead, you’ll need to take a short hike uphill, covering a few hundred yards. Today, there’s hardly any sun, but even if it was sunny, the high trees will keep the exposure minimal.
It’s not a very difficult hike, so you can do it with kids as well. You can see the trail is wide at this point.
As you walk up the paved trail, you’ll reach a bench overlooking the trail. The lake is quiet and calm and you’d want to stop for a minute to take it all in. The water of the lake is quite clear.
After this point, the trail gets pretty steep, going down as much as 250 feet. So you should take it slow and move at your own pace.
After the incline, the trail branches into two, as it loops around the lake.
We went with the east route as it leads to the Nenana River and the forest on the north side of the loop. You can see the river flowing up close with a gorgeous backdrop of forested hills.
You can also see the development ‘Glitter Glutch’ near this point.
The trail then continues around the lake giving some more views of the lake and a chance to enjoy its serenity.
The looping trail is rather flat so there’s no climbing up or down, which makes it even easier. This part is also not that forested, so it’s more open and offers more visibility of the surroundings.
It does go around the edge of a hill with the lake on the immediate right. This is another beautiful spot on the lake to take some Instagram-worthy pictures of Horseshoe Lake.
It’s best to be here around midday, so you have maximum daylight to take pictures.
The trees’ reflection on the surface of water creates an amazing landscape and is very Alaska.
The trail continues at the edge of the lake for another few hundred yards. The good thing is that this part of the trail is flat.
It doesn’t take long to do a roundtrip of the Horseshoe lake, perhaps a little over an hour and a half.
And depending on what time of year you go, there might not be much foot traffic, which means you can hike slow and take in the views along the way as much as you like. Check out these top hiking tours in Denali.
See Related: Best Travel Backpacks
Crossing Horseshoe Lake While Hiking
After you’ve crossed the west part of the trail right next to the lake, the trail gets wider and continues back to the point where you began trekking the looped trail. This portion is not very dense with trees.
It’s probably that way naturally and doesn’t really have anything to do with deforestation.
Anyways, this is also a rather flat trek that continues until you reach the singular path back to the trailhead.
Along the way, there are some viewing points to view the south end of the lake. If you want to get some more views, you can go ahead and spend some time there.
By the way, there’s also a short spur to view beaver dams on the east side, which we didn’t take.
The Horseshoe Trail is easier to trek for any hiker regardless of their experience level.
The elevation is not dangerous. You’ll need to hike back up the steps on your way back.
Here is a view from the top of the hike.
It’s a popular trail, so there will be other people as well. I hope you enjoy this part of Denali National Park and Preserve as much as we did.
Other Alaska Guides
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- Best Hotels in Fairbanks, Alaska
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