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Horseshoe Lake Trail is a 11.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Leavenworth, Washington that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October.

Distance: 11.9 miles Elevation Gain: 3,129 feet Route Type: Out & Back

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

scramble

no dogs

Horseshoe Lake is found a couple miles beyond Lake Stuart. You can do the 16 mile out & back as a day trip, or camp at Lake Stuart and head there before returning home the following day. Horseshoe Lake is found a couple miles beyond Lake Stuart. You can do the 16 mile out & back as a day trip, or camp at Lake Stuart and head there before returning home the following day. Follow the lake shore trail past the camp sites. The trail then winds in and out of the forest for two miles. You'll pass a meadow, and then back into the forest where you will look for a horseshoe nailed to a tree. Beyond that you will find the trail to the lake. The last mile covers about 1500 vertical feet to get to the lake.

hiking
blowdown
bugs
scramble
snow
5 days ago

The lake itself is gorgeous! Getting up there is another story. First stretch past Stuart isn’t unreasonable but it quickly becomes very difficult to follow the trail through the woods and marsh. This portion is very buggy as well. The climb then becomes steep but there are a numbers of cairns to keep you on a somewhat distinguishable trail. Lost the trail the last 200 feet or so by the waterfall. Lake has started to thaw but still a bit of snow up there.

Colchuck lake is gorgeous! The trial is well maintained, but bring bug spray, I got eaten alive!

hiking
blowdown
rocky
scramble
snow
23 days ago

Did this trail 3 days back. Very hard to find the trail - especially going up. Follow the steam up the entire way and lookout for cairns. Once it becomes hard to find the trail - continue following the stream and stick left on the ridge. You’ll have to scramble to the top (through a lot of snow right now). Don’t go to the right of the ridge - it looks enticing, but it’s dangerous and will get you lost. Once you make it to horseshoe you’ll lose your breath with its beauty. Stunning. Worth the craziness. Bring a GPS to make sure you don’t get lost.

hiking
26 days ago

unpleasant due to fire

hiking
off trail
over grown
scramble
snow
29 days ago

We did a day hike to Horseshoe from our base at Stuart Lake on Jun 5. The wildfire damage makes navigation difficult, both because the trail is easy to lose and even when the path is clear, dozens of fallen trees block the path. Lots of climbing. When the trail turns uphill, there are numerous switchbacks that crisscross several streams and small waterfalls. Beautiful, but again, easy to lose the trail. We lost the trail completely about 1/4 mile from the top due to complete snow coverage. We continued hiking up to the lake, which is almost entirely frozen over and completely surrounded by snow. Views were beautiful, though, and we were able to sled down on our rain jackets after beginning our descent. Would recommend, but it's not for the feint of heart. Full body workout over and under trees, limbs, and scrambling towards the top.

hiking
off trail
over grown
rocky
snow
8 months ago

Attempted to complete this trail yesterday after doing Colchuk and Stuart. Initially able to find the trail, and spent lots of time ducking under and over fallen trees. We tried to follow prior footprints but kept losing the trail, then finding it, then losing it. At around 3 it began to snow, and we continued to look for the trail but couldn't find it. We turned back and completed our hike.

9 months ago

After fire...Steep, hard to initially find trail and hard to stay on. Dangerously steep if you get off “trail” in many areas. So few people hike it - will take a long time before it looks like a trail again...

hiking
bugs
scramble
11 months ago

Hiked 7/9/19 Post fire the trail was a mess for sure. Bushwhacked our way up which involved a lot of climbing over and under fallen trees, the last haul up the mountain was a mess for sure since we couldn’t keep sight of the trail. Would have been dangerous without my hiking poles for sure. Mosquitoes were UNREAL. Bug net is a must. However skip Stuart lake and head here. View was breathtaking and we were the only people there camping. Well worth it.

hiking
Fri Dec 28 2018

DISCLAIMER: NOT SURE ABOUT CONDITIONS POST-FIRE I drew an Enchantments permit in 2016 and my group and I camped in Stuart Zone for 5 days, 4 nights. Horseshoe Lake was our day hike destination on day 3. We hit it during the golden week and WOW what a sight to behold. "The Meadow" on the way to Stuart had been a sign of things to come but we had no idea what we were really in store for. Contrary to the AT description, this is NOT a highly trafficked trail. It's a dead end, stand alone attraction that lies "far" beyond the Colchuck turnoff that most people take. Even Stuart itself was a ghost town all week. Anyway, the hike from Stuart isn't all that far but the ascent is a grinder with short switchbacks and a lot of gain vs. distance. After you clear the meadow, look for a horseshoe on a tree. As you ascend, you can lose the trail in spots, just keep heading "up". Once you're there, you'll know it. The initial view is one of the most amazing first impressions you'll ever get from anywhere. It's like a mini Core Zone, tucked away in the back closet. Huge crags and insane skylines, tons of scrambling and bouldering to be had, crystal clear/emerald water and tasty larches in all the right places. The most beautiful place I've ever personally been to. If you have to choose between Colchuck and Horseshoe, take Horseshoe every time. Enjoy

hiking
Sun Oct 07 2018

Hiked 10/05/18 from Colchuck Lake to Horseshoe on my last permit day before leaving that evening and I will never regret it. It started snowing as I got closer to Lake Stuart and didn’t stop for my whole ascent/descent. From the trail head, enjoy the insane levels of day hiking foot traffic on the the very abused main section... before the Stuart/Colchuck junction. After the junction, the trail is very plush until you reach southern extents of the Jack Creek burn just before you start the last major uphill ascent. 1,000,000 logs are down everywhere, and there is still relatively little vegetative cover on the scorched soil. The trail is in desperate need of maintenance in the first part of the climb and you will have trail finding issues. The key is to remember that the climb mostly follows the major drainage on that section of the side slope. This is more obvious when you are descending. This is not a hike for inexperienced users. You must have well honed way-finding capability. Reading the landscape is crucial to help reduce human impacts in this area while it is in the process of healing. It is almost appalling that a bigger effort has not been made by the Forest Service to minimize human related impacts here. Isn’t that why we pay for the overnight lottery?

Sat Jun 09 2018

Great location with fantastic views. But you have to earn it. With the wildfires that swept through last summer, the trail after Stuart Lake is near impossible to find. Make sure you have GPS and the trail downloaded. We had someone in our group with GPS that had been to Horseshoe once before and it was still quite difficult. After Stuart, you go about an hour through a marsh and lots of fallen trees. If you stay on course, the tree with the horseshoe is still standing. Once you see it, it’s straight up the mountain about 2,500 feet and this is where the trail is completely gone. Ash, mud, and dead trees everywhere. Took us about 3 hours for this section before reaching the lake. Microspikes a must have and be ready to get covered in ash. Nice thing is once you get up there, you have it to yourself. Not too many people trying to make it with all the obstacles. Well worth it if you have the time and GPS. Feels like you are in the Core.

Tue Aug 15 2017

If I could live here in the summer I would!! One of my most favorite places to be!

Fri Jul 21 2017

The last bit is a bit hard, but the lake and the surroundings are just awesome.

Mon Jun 08 2015

No trail past Lake Stuart, a lot of blow down, and a little steep towards the end, otherwise a great 1 day hike. Note, most of the hike out was in the dark back to the trailhead.

Tue Mar 10 2015

Was on my way to hike into the core Enchantments but missed the sign in the dark....ended up at Horseshoe Lake- tranquil, quiet, with few (if any) other hikers. Amazing views! Best mistake I've made yet!!

hiking
2 days ago

hiking
12 days ago

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