2.2 Miles

155 feet

Easy as pie

A+ Views

Horseshoe Trail Hike Overview

The Horseshoe Trail Hike is perfect if you are looking for a quick, easy hike with A+ views. There are also a ton of Teddy Bear cholla on the horseshoe trail. If you are like me and think Teddy Bear cholla are particularly cool (and deceptive) then you will like this trail. 

Map & Elevation Profile

Total distance: 2.22 mi
Max elevation: 1815 ft
Min elevation: 1660 ft
Total time: 00:46:32

Map for the Horseshoe Trail Hike

Get this map! The Green Trail Maps are super nice maps because they are easy to read, have good color-coding, distances, and elevations, and are usually up to date.

mcdowell mountains green trails map get outdoors get happy

McDowell Mountains Greentrails map

You definitely won’t regret having this map for your McDowell Sonoran Preserve hikes!

Parking

Plugin ‘gateway trailhead’ and Google maps will take you right there. Parking is free and there’s lots of it!

Horseshoe Trail Hike Trail Notes

When I want to get outside but not just walk in my neighborhood, this small loop at the Gateway trailhead is a great choice. There is minimal elevation, great desert landscape, and superb views.

An added bonus is that you can add on other trails to make it longer (maybe add on the Levee trail?) or just keep it short and sweet. Read more here

One of my favorite things about this trail is all the Teddy Bear cholla. There is A LOT on this trail. The first time I saw Teddy Bear cholla, I thought, “What is that plant? It looks so soft and fuzzy.” Upon closer inspection, it became clear that they are actually in the business of trying to poke you to death with millions and millions of stiff spikes. Not huggable at all!

Pro Tip: Do this trail around sunset

Teddy Bear cholla look sweet right around dusk. The low angle of the sun makes them look like they are glowing! It’s beautiful and makes for great photos.

So, is the Horseshoe Trail hike worth it?

Yup. It’s a great easy stroll in epic desert scenery. 

Other hikes close by

Also starting from this trailhead is the Gateway Loop hike or the hike up to Bell Pass. For something as equally chill, mosey on up to the Fraesfield trailhead and try the Whiskey Bottle Trail hike

Get more inspired to get outside:

9 Pro Thru-Hiking Tips from a Triple Crown Thru-Hiker

I met with Dan Herr, a Triple Crowner. Here are his top 9 pro thru-hiking tips. He warns that doing one wil make you want to do more.

PCT 2023 Training Hike

My First PCT Training Hike I got my first PCT 2023 training hike in about 2 months out from my start date. One of my primary goals of thru-hiking the PCT is to not die of being sore (learn more about why I'm taking an extended backcountry vacation here). I'm glad I...

PCT 2023 Thru-Hike Countdown

PCT 2023 Thru-Hike Countdown My PCT 2023 thru-hike is rapidly approaching. Get excited with me. This is going to be my best summer ever! Learn more about my why for hiking the PCT here. Here is the countdown to my April 12, 2023 start date. When & WhereIt's all...

Why I’m Hiking the PCT – Listening To That Little Voice In My Head

Why hike the PCT? Taking 6 months to walk for hours per day with a heavy pack, sleep on the ground, go to the bathroom outside, eat dehydrated meals, and not shower for days seems absolutely nuts to many people. Why would anyone choose this? Hiking the PCT is deeply...

Hike to the Lookout, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Why hike to Tom’s Thumb with you can hike to the Lookout? The views are even better, the trail is fantasic and there are less people!

Dispersed Camping Fire Control Road (NF-64), Payson, AZ

The dispersed camping along Fire Control Road (NF-64) in Payson, AZ, is great! There are quiet sites with great views. Read more here!

Piestewa Vs Camelback? Which Should You Hike?

Piestewa vs Camelback? Not sure which one you should hike? Read this article to help you decide. Hint: they both have pros and cons!

Natural Tunnel Via Dirt Road Trail Hike, South Mountain Preserve

Hiking to the Natural Tunnel via the Dirt Road Trail starts out lame (you’re on a dirt road) but quickly turns into a sweet hike. Learn more!

Latigo Chuckwagon Loop Hike, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The Latigo Chuckwagon Loop Hike is the best hike starting from the Brown’s Mountain trailhead. It is not as busy and has great views!

Sunrise Trail Hike, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The Sunrise Trail Hike has a lot to offer: some elevation but not too much, SUPERB views, and not too far outside the city! Read more here.