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!


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

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