Horseshoe Lake Trail

Difficulty
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Very Easy
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
0.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
1.6 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
46 m
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Directions to Trailhead
Horseshoe Lake Trail

Horseshoe Lake is a crystal blue subalpine lake that is directly off the Icefields Parkway. The trail navigates part of the shoreline while providing great views of the lake and its surrounding cliff walls. There are plenty of spots to sit and relax while taking in the beauty of the landscape at Horseshoe Lake. It is considered a local swimming hole even though the water remains ice cold all summer.

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Route Description for Horseshoe Lake Trail

Horseshoe Lake is known for its swimming and cliff jumping opportunities. It is ideal for jumping and features cliff walls ranging from 1 m - 80 m in height. Due to the extensive cliffs that line this stunning lake, it has become a site of dangerous activity and negligence to the wilderness. Horseshoe Lake was once an extremely busy spot filled with reckless activity and incidents. Parks Canada has removed the highway sign in an effort to deter visitors. The lake sees much fewer visitors now and has quieted down significantly.

With visitorship down, the 1.6 km Horseshoe Lake trail is a great option for those looking to take a rest along the Icefields Parkway. It is not often visited by those passing through. You’ll be able to take a quick stroll along the shores and take in the incredible blue water of this hidden gem.

From the parking lot, follow the clear trail into the forest. This trail will lead you 0.1 km along an obvious dirt path to a junction. The left trail will lead to a quick out-and-back along the cliffs. Stay right and hike towards the water. You will come to the water at 0.2 km, and the trail will begin to bend left, following the curvature of the lakeshore.

At 0.6 km along the trail, you will find a small junction with a side trail off to the left that will take you to a viewpoint. Follow the curvature along the inside of the horseshoe shape for another 0.2 km and come to another small junction. Stay on the main path and take a right to the cliffside viewpoint at the next small junction. You’ll be able to see the interesting shape of this trail at the main trailhead.

There are many small footbridges and viewpoints that are perfect for a relaxing break. Swimming is allowed here, and you will find signs warning against cliff jumping and dangerous activity. Luckily the water is so clear, so you should be able to see the depth from wherever you are.

Hiking Route Highlights

Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway (93N) is rated one of Canada’s most scenic drives, and you’ll know why as soon as you start your journey. There are endless viewpoints and lookouts along this incredible drive. Horseshoe Lake is one of the many places to stop on the Icefields Parkway. Pickup the Icefields Parkway guide at the Banff, Lake Louise, or Jasper Visitor Centres.

Insider Hints for Horseshoe Lake Trail

  • Plan a picnic and bring everything you’ll need to set up for a relaxing afternoon.
  • Explore the small junctions and viewpoints along the way before taking a rest.
  • Jump into the icy water if you dare! You might run into many other swimmers if it's a hot summer day.

Getting to the Horseshoe Lake Trail Trailhead

To get to Horseshoe Lake, take Connaught Drive southbound towards the junction for the 93N (Icefields Parkway). Continue straight through the intersection, joining the 93N. Follow the highway for 26.0 km before turning left into the pullout that leads to Horseshoe Lake. The sign has been removed by Parks Canada, so beware that you will need to clock your odometer for this one.

Route Information

  • When to do

    May-September

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Lollipop

Horseshoe Lake Trail Elevation Graph

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