Denali Park Road/Frontcountry

Environmental Assessment on Improvements and Additions to Horseshoe Lake Trail Available for Public Comment

NPS Photo
NPS Photo

Contact:  Kris Fister,, 907-683-9583

DENALI PARK, Alaska:  The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking public comment on an   Environmental Assessment (EA) evaluating improvements to the Horseshoe Lake Trail. The NPS is considering extending the trail around the lake and out to the Nenana River in order to protect park resources and enhance the visitor experience by providing a safe, sustainable trail.

The 1.5 mile-long Horseshoe Lake Trail is utilized by over 200 visitors per day in the peak season. It was constructed in 1940, the park’s first established trail, and in 2013 was determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Horseshoe Lake is an oxbow lake, an abandoned channel of the Nenana River, and provides habitat for a variety of wildlife. The lake and surrounding area gives visitors opportunities to see moose, beaver, and many bird species. Anglers also hike in for the small fish in the lake. The trailhead is located at the railroad crossing (Mile 1) on the Denali Park Road.

Seventy years of high use has degraded the existing trail, and portions are eroding. A network of social trails has developed around the lake and throughout the area, creating additional erosion and damage to sensitive wildlife habitat, including beaver dams and lodges.

The EA evaluates two alternatives:

  • Alternative 1 – Existing Conditions – No Action

The NPS would not extend the Horseshoe Lake Trail and visitors would continue to hike throughout the area by any route they choose.  The peninsula would continue to receive heavy use and the compaction of beaver dams and lodges by visitors walking on them would likely continue.  Existing social trails would continue to be used and new social trails could develop.

  •  Alternative 2 – Create Loop Trail and Rehabilitate Social Trails

Under this alternative the NPS would extend the Horseshoe Lake Trail around the lake and along the Nenana River and construct a bridge and one log puncheon.  The existing planks leading to the peninsula area would be removed and visitors would be discouraged from hiking on the peninsula in order to prevent further impacts to wildlife and the large active beaver lodge.  A trail to an overlook on the ridge south of the lake would be created along an existing social trail.  Social trails would be revegetated and signed to encourage visitors to remain on the maintained trail.

The NPS has published a draft EA for this issue entitled “Horseshoe Lake Trail Improvements and Additions”.  It is available at the NPS planning website at The draft EA analyzes the impacts of the proposed alternative and the no action alternative. It was completed in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR 1508.9).

Comments on the EA may be submitted through January 22, 2014, preferably via the website at Comments may also be faxed to (907) 683-9612, or mailed to the address below:

Denali National Park and Preserve
ATTN:  Horseshoe Lake EA
P.O. Box 9
Denali Park, AK  99755

For questions about the EA, please contact Paula Homan, Project Planning Lead, at (907) 683-6223 or


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