Horseshoe Lake Trail

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a beaver in a pond
Lucky visitors might spot a beaver in Horseshoe Lake.

NPS Photo / Emily Mesner

Quick Details

  • Distance (round-trip): 2 miles
  • Duration (round-trip): 2 hours
  • Elevation change: 250' loss (mostly in one steep hill near the trailhead)


The trailhead is located on the Denali Park Road, at Mile 1. This is where the Alaska Railroad crosses the park road, and there is a small parking lot adjacent to the trailhead. You can also park at the Denali Visitor Center (Mile 1.5 of the park road) and walk either the Bike Path or the Taiga Trail to reach the Horseshoe Lake Trail.


From the trailhead, you'll hike up a short, steep hill (~25 elevation gain) and, after a few hundred yards, you'll reach a bench overlooking the lake.

After this bench, the trail drops very steeply, about 250', down to the level of the lake. The trail then branches in two directions, forming a loop around the lake. Viewing platforms overlook the south end of the lake. Near the mid-way point, on the east side of the loop, you can hike a short spur to overlook a beaver dam.

The north end of the loop brings you out of the forest and alongside the Nenana River; across the river, and outside of the park, is one of the main tourism centers, called "the Canyon" or "Glitter Gulch."

The west part of the loop is particularly scenic, as it hugs the shore of the lake along a very steep slope.

Trail Map & Photo Gallery


Last updated: November 18, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755


(907) 683-9532
A ranger is available 9 am—4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you get to the voicemail, please leave a message and we'll call you back as soon as we finish with the previous caller.

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