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