Heart Mountain Horseshoe

HARD 101 reviews

Heart Mountain Horseshoe is a 10.5 kilometer lightly trafficked loop trail located near Lac des Arcs, Alberta, Canada that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
10.5 km
ELEVATION GAIN
938 m
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

scramble

snow

hiking
2 months ago

Perfect weather for this Hike today. Awesome rock scrambling. Not for a rookie scrambler.

Definitely do it Counter clockwise. I don't think I'd want to attempt scrambling down the steep section and have to see how far down it is, if you did it clockwise.

Great views, and after you get to the summit of Heart Mountain, it gets easier. Quite a long loop around through dense forest on the return.

hiking
2 months ago

Very steep with few flat spots going up. Mostly going up rock. One spot where you climb about 10’ (give or take) straight up a rock ledge. Somewhat difficult, but I wouldn’t say it was dangerous. Used my hands in a fair amount of places. Was also very thankful I had poles.

The ridge walk was a nice break. It was snowy and extremely windy when we went, so take layers. Once you are on the ridge the uphills to the other peaks are pretty gentle.

Going down was pretty straight forward. Lots of it is through forest. When you get to the bottom, you follow a flat trail parallel to the highway for about 2km back to the main trailhead.

We clocked 13.4km back to the trailhead. It took us 5 hours 10 minutes. Definitely will want to go counterclockwise, as coming down going clockwise would be somewhat sketchy!

hiking
3 months ago

Love it!!! Peak after Peak after Peak! couple kids, couple dogs! The a couple scrambles/climbs were a little struggling especially if your new. So would rate this as hard, not moderate, and we tracked it to 13.5 km from heart creek parking lot!

hiking
4 months ago

The scramble up was tough, but not dangerous, just a lot of it! Saw no bears.

4 months ago

We did the horseshoe loop here after reading a handful of reviews. Let me tell you, it was much harder then I anticipated, and we hike every weekend.

You'll want to go counter clockwise. the scramble going up was hard but I wouldn't want to be going down that.

If you don't feel cofortable with a hands on scramble (I'd even call it light bouldering) then I wouldn't suggest it. I was suprised when I saw a family with 3 boys (6-12) coming down it.

The map was handy but my phone died out. It took us 6 hours, granted we are a little slow. 5 should be expected though. Once we got to the peak of heart we were disappointed to see 2 more peaks. I'll be honest, we had a water problem and only had a litre between the 2 of us, so I was grumpy. We were exposed in the sun quite a bit so ensure you have water, a hat and sunscreen. I didn't have a bug issues. There was bear warning, bear poop spotted but no bear sighting.

we saw about 3 other hikers attempting the full loop so it was only lightly trafficked but I was happy to have someone around considering the difficulty.

Also there is a waterfall trail along the creek, if you don't feel solid in your hiking abilities (I'd call this an advanced scramble) then just go to the falls.

hiking
4 months ago

An exhilarating scramble to the top of Heart, plus spectacular views along the ridge walk.
If you take the horseshoe route, beware of dense forest in the Quaite Valley area where it would be ideal to have a group of 4.

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail; but keep in mind that an average scramble does not equal an average hike. This is much harder than most average hikes.

hiking
5 months ago

I rated this 4 stars just because of the scramble alone.
If you're looking for a challenging, fun and adventurous scramble...this one is it!
It was a challenge but I didn't find it to be that difficult. The view at the top is beautiful! I started doing the loop however felt it was going to be really drawn out with a repetitious view. Compared to other hikes I've done this loop didn't feel worth doing. So I chose to go back down and scramble up along the inside of the mountain which was a really neat feeling! You have to have a lot of trust and confidence in the mountain and your own footing coming down. Perhaps doing the loop would be easier for that reason.
Checking in with this app works great to ensure you don't get lost.
Proper hiking shoes are necessary.
Hearing the traffic from the highway the whole time takes away from this hike.
Although I did bring my dog who appeared to have no issues, I wouldn't recommend it as it is quite steep.

5 months ago

An amazing hike with some moderate scramble at the beginning and amazing views at the top. Different summits gave us unique views and was definitely easier at the middle portion. Going up was very fun as there was no "correct way" of going up, so to speak. It was straightforward when you know what you're looking for/where you're going and it certainly was not terrifying or life threatening.

The way down definitely felt like forever but was easy to follow. Having proper hiking shoes play a big role going down as there were lots of loose rock/smooth rocks that runners wouldn't be able to handle.

Overall, the hike was enjoyable and I definitely will do it again. Took my group 6 hours to do the loop.

5 months ago

This is an excellent trail. An incredibly diverse path with a lot of different scenery. You get an excellent view from all directions. If you're looking for a full day with great views and lots of challenge, this is a good option.

I would definitely recommend poles for the way down, and some proper hiking shoes (NOT runners). I did it in runners and without poles, but I was slipping a lot on my way down. I do also recommend sunscreen and bug spray, you'll need both. There were a lot of really small biting bugs at the top where we ate lunch, but the bug spray fixed that right up.

I also am not sure how great this would be with a dog, the climbing section seems like it might pose a problem.

I agree that if it seems unnecessarily scary, you might have gone the wrong way. I was lucky to have this to keep me on track, even with having read up and being prepared, we still missed the red diamond. I was checking often to see if I was on path though, which was very helpful.

hiking
5 months ago

Lots of variation in topology and scenery. When going clockwise it can be difficult to find the right trail as you head down the mountain.

hiking
5 months ago

Short version: The scramble up was really fun and totally worth it for the views. I strongly recommend taking the time to do the full loop. You get much nicer views and I think it may be a bit safer on the way down compared to if you just go up to Heart Mountain and go back the same way.

Long version:

So, how to get there? Park at the Heart Creek parking lot, and take the Heart Creek trail until you see a bench with a sign about the floods. There's a sign that says "Trail closed for reclamation" - this marks the start of the trail to Heart Mountain and where it diverges from Heart Creek Trail. Follow the trail for a few minutes across a small creek bed until you hit a 5-way (I think) junction. The trail is marked by a yellow sign warning that this is a scrambling route. This is where the ascent begins!

It's quite steep and definitely a great leg workout. I personally didn't find the scramble very frightening or intimidating, and I'm not an experienced scrambler (moderately experienced hiker though). I'm also afraid of heights, so I just made sure to pick routes towards the centre and just took my time.

There's no "right" way up UNTIL you hit a rather high rock wall with no immediately obvious way up. You may be inclined to walk along the wall, but you actually need to climb up onto it. The best way to do this is marked by a white ribbon, a cairn, and a red sign. It's near the beginning of the wall, so look for it there. If you're not paying attention, you could definitely miss it.

From there I think it was another 20 minutes to the summit. If doing the full loop (which I strongly encourage), keep in mind that this isn't the halfway point, but I'd say the hardest part is done. It took us another 1.5 hours to reach the other two summits and start the descent. The trail here is very well marked, so you shouldn't have any problems. (The descent seemed to take forever though.)

All in all it took us about 5 hours and 15 minutes, and that was without getting lost and with two extended food and water breaks. We're fairly active and decently experienced at hiking, so keep that in mind when planning for time. I would rate this hike as moderate. We thought it was a lot of fun and really enjoyed it. Even if you don't want to do the whole loop go out for about 10-15 minutes past the Heart Mountain summit for some great views. You won't regret it, I promise.

5 months ago

great short scramble up, a bit tough on the way down the scramble. about 3 hours round trip


can also do the loop/Ridge but it's long and drawn out.... if you have a full day then do it

hiking
5 months ago

There are small technical areas such as a 6ft boulder problem on the ascent and some narrow loose, rocky trails with exposure coming down from the peak. That being said this is not extreme. 80% of it is moderate. Maybe another 20% could be rated difficult. Pay the mountain respect, though, and take caution where it is needed. Views are worth the grind. I especially liked coming down into the grassy valley up top. Did it in 5 hours with some older gents and lots of breaks. I maybe drank 1 litre over the whole loop on a partially cloudy day.

For reference, I consider yamnuska mostly moderate.

hiking
6 months ago

WARNING!! Agree with below review. This hike is NOT Moderate. It is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT and DANGEROUS especially coming down. Very steep 90% of the time, loose rock and unstable footing. I repeat this trail is NOT MODERATE. Great view BTW. Go prepared.

6 months ago

This was definitely an extreme trail through the route we went. In total it took us 7 hours which include our breaks. There is many ways to get to the first peak, we ended up having to scale lots of loose rocks patches and then did about 25 ft of no harness rock climbing to get to the first peak faster. overall this can be a demanding hike during hot temperatures and saw alot of people who were not prepared for such a demanding steep hike. Bring LOTS of water, camel back and Gatorade if possible. we saw lots of people suffering from heat exhaustion along the path. there is no active streams along the way, or lakes, there was a small patch of snow at the top. Once at the top you do have a pretty cool view.

hiking
6 months ago

So I would say that this probably isn't a moderate hike, the scramble is pretty advanced and there are many different scrambles throughout the hike. We went to I believe the second or third peak not making it the full horseshoe, however the view was great the hike was fun, challenging and rewarding. For someone who had never done this hike before I wasn't prepared for what it actually was but enjoyed every moment of it. We usually bring our dog on hikes with us, but lucky enough we didn't this time as there is no way she could have completed the scrambles. I wouldn't recommend bringing your dog. Just my opinions, enjoy the hike!

hiking
6 months ago

Not recommended for a beginner hiker, I found this scramble difficult but with a rewarding view at the end. Bring hiking poles for this one and do the full horseshoe.

6 months ago

Tip- avoid lose rocks and just take the route on the right which has big rocks to grab on. I know it's on the edge but you'll be fine with sticky shoes. If I can do the loop in 4 hours then all you can do it!

6 months ago

So I did this hike with some other savvy hikers and we got lost TWICE along with another 5 sets of hikers. The trail is very poorly marked. You are suppose to start by going past the sign that says closed for maintenance...do not go up the creek bed. Then there is a single marker next to a 5 foot "cliff" after you have gained some elevation a bit and that is where you start the more major scramble. We missed that marker going up and went up a very wrong way so unless you see that don't go further. Stay to the middle for the free climb. Then if you're wondering when you drop back down if you're doing the loop...you walk all the ridges and "peaks" then circle back towards the highway when there is literally know where to go but down. It will take you down through the trees all the way down to flat where you come to a T intersection when left takes you back to heart creek parking lot. If we didn't get lost twice it would have been more enjoyable. But it is GORGEOUS! I would say not a moderate hike...more difficult. Not recommended for a first time hiker in my opinion. The view of the K valley on the south ridges is really beautiful! I would do this again

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