Horseshoe Lake in Jasper National Park is a pleasure and an adventure to explore. The trail is there, the stairs and bridges are there, but there is not a trail sign to be seen, and some sections of trail are far from obvious. The lake itself is cliff lined and a considerable amount of the trail crosses exposed rock slabs along the lake's shore. The cliffs along the lake are popular with the cliff jumping crowd but be warned, the water is really, really cold.
From the parking lot the wide hardened trail descends to the lake=s west arm in a short 50m. Just before the west arm of the lake, a junction on the left leads 75m to the canoe launch. The launch is nothing more than an old beaver lodge, the dock having floated away and sunk a decade back. The west arm is the lakes outlet, look for the water slipping underground just before it reaches the trail. The second junction, on the other side of the west arm is the way back, keep straight ahead. A third junction on the left at 150m is a shortcut trail to the shore of the lake, keep straight ahead.
Beyond the third junction the hardened trail ends and a dirt trail winds off into the trees. Passing below a large slab of rock take note of the pocket in the rock and the passage beyond. It is fun to squeeze through to a nifty little camp with a prehistoric feeling. If you don't take the squeeze then pass below the rock and walk up the gentle slab and through the trees to a T-intersection along the cliff lined east arm of Horseshoe Lake. To the right is a short trail into the corner of the east arm, while the main trail is to the left. This corner of the lake is lots of fun for kids to scramble around, but warn them that there are some big cliffs in the area.
Turning left at the T-intersection the trail will cross a bridge in short order, then drift back into the forest to the second junction with the shortcut trail. Keep right on the shoreline trail and cross a second bridge on to more slabs of rock. This is where the trail gets obscure.
Just stay close to shore as the route steps down over a series of rock ledges. Then it's a combination of braided trails and rock steps down to a rock wall. Climb up the obvious break in the 1.5m wall of rock, and follow the faint winding trail to another T-intersection at the entrance to the west arm of the lake. To the right, the trail descends a set of stairs and meanders out to a small peninsula for some fantastic views around the lake and beyond. To the left the shoreline trail winds its way over some rock slabs to a bridge, and then more fun rocks for messing around on. The trail drifts back from the lake shore before completing the loop at back at second junction, turn right for the parking lot.
Horseshoe Lake shows up on the government 1:50,000 topo '83 C/12 Athabasca Falls' but the trail does not. The trail does show up on Gemtrek's 1:100,000 'Jasper and Maligne Lake'. Both are available from the The Friends of Jasper.
Submitted by 'mtncat'.
Drive south of Jasper on the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) for 27km, the parking lot is on the left (east) side of the road. There is a picnic table, a privy and a garbage can in the parking lot.
(a) Click Wiki Edit This Page to get placed in edit mode
(b) When finished, your update is available to view as draft (click wiki update pending in trail to see draft)
* note: editors are notified and must approve the change