Horseshoe Lake

Cave Creek, Arizona (Maricopa County)

Last Updated: 11/15/2020
4 / 5 ( 2 reviews )
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Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Permit Information: Permit Required - Click Here
Length: 8.8 miles
Highest Elevation: 3541 feet
Duration: About 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Cave Creek
Nearest Town w/ Services: Cave Creek
Official Road Name: 205
Management Agency: Tonto National Forest
District: Cave Creek Ranger District
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Highlight: Horseshoe Lake
Water in the desert means life. The beautiful and wild Verde River flows 170 miles through the center of Arizona before emptying into the Salt River. Two dams create broad lakes near the river's southern terminus, the first being Horseshoe Dam. Less crowded than the lower Bartlett Lake, Horseshoe Lake offers boating, kayaking, fishing, camping, wildlife watching, broad desert vistas, and quiet relaxation, The sandy saguaro lined road to Horseshoe Lake passes below St. Clair Mountain on its descent through the rugged Tonto National Forest into the Verde River's deep valley and then on the lake. Numerous trails branch off for those looking for some adventurous wheeling. The K A Ranch appears wonderfully bucolic on the eastern bank of the river. Easy access to the Verde River below the dam offers fishing and dispersed camping opportunities. Numerous species of catfish, crappie, and bass along with bluegills and carp are plentiful. Anglers may find themselves competing with bald eagles who frequently fish the river and lake. The trail ends at a boat ramp often used as a takeout for kayakers coming down the Verde as well as those wishing to troll the lake. Be sure to take the short detour to visit the dam and Catfish Point, a great place to watch the river's precious water cascading from the dam's spillway.



7 day forecast for Horseshoe Lake

Route Information

Technical Rating:
( EASY )

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1. Trailhead (0 mi)
Pavement ends and the trail begins.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 33.903200, -111.748933

Starting Point: Cave Creek, Arizona

From the intersection of Tom Darlington Road and Cave Creek Road Cave, proceed east 6 miles on Cave Creek Road. Turn right onto Bartlett Lake Road. Proceed 6.3 miles and turn left onto Horseshoe Lake Road at the well-marked intersection. The paved section of Horseshoe Lake Road ends in 2 miles and the trail begins.



Trail Reviews (3)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I started just after sunrise and the temperatures dipped to the high 30s. Beautiful road and area that had to myself on the way in. The way out had more traffic around 10am. Road was washboardy almost the entire way. I would recommend this road for anyone looking for an hour long break from city life.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The fire closure has been rescinded and terminated. Please be responsible and a reminder that fire restrictions are still in place. No fires, fireworks, or anything else that will cause a spark. The Tonto National Forest together with federal, state and local partners will extend Stage 1 Fire Restrictions due insufficient rain and continued dry fuel conditions on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, at 12 a.m. Stage 1 Fire Restrictions were previously set to expire on Oct. 31, 2020, unless rescinded or extended. The purpose of these restrictions is to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires during periods of high fire danger and elevated fire weather conditions. This order shall remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2020, or until rescinded, whichever occurs first.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We took the neighbors out to the lake for the day. We had a great time exploring around the dam and talking to a couple of anglers. The water rushing out the dam's spillway was very impressive.

Questions & Answers (0)

Writer Information

Wade May

Hi! I'm Wade. After 43 years as a pilot, split evenly between flying fighters for the Air Force and Boeing 737s for the airlines, my feet are firmly planted on the ground. Seems I spent a lot of my flying time looking out the cockpit window thinking, "Yep, I could drive that trail." My trips range from a few days to a month. Most are solo in my silver 4Runner named Bullit. We range over all the southwest exploring remote places and trying to get as much dirt under the wheels as possible. Occasionally I get in some hiking, backpacking, and bushcraft as well. My most ambitious overlanding plans include a trip to Tuktoyaktuk and Dead Horse. Sharing my experiences as a member of the Trails Offroad crew is a true pleasure. Hope to see you on the trail soon.
For individual use only, not to be shared.