Horseshoe Lake/East Fork Trail 56

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Photo of Horse Riders

In the summer months the trail can be used for hiking and horseback riding.  In the winter months the trail is used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.


Travel approximately 25 miles north on NM State Highway 522 to Questa. Turn right (east) on NM Highway 38, approximately 15 miles. Going east through Red River, take the right fork at the east end of town towards NM State Highway 578, Upper Red River Valley Road 578, travel south for 6.4 miles. The pavement ends here. Take the road to the left across the bridge, FR 58A, and travel approximately 1 ¼ miles to the wilderness users parking area.  You will cross private land – please be courteous.  The road from the end of the pavement to the parking area is not maintained.  No vehicles are permitted beyond the parking area.

Attractions and Considerations:

The trail starts at the parking area, ¾ of a mile before Ditch Cabin it is an easy hike with a gradual ascent.  Just past the Trail #55 junction you will cross the “Big Ditch” which was constructed in 1868 to divert water over 41 miles to mines in Elizabethtown.  The trail continues up the East Fork of the Red River for approximately three miles before it turns to the west across a bridge.  It climbs for about a mile past a rock slide and a spectacular vista point to the wilderness boundary and the Lost Lake Trail (#91) junction.  There are many camping areas along the trail.  The campsite at the trail junction is the most popular because of its close proximity to both Lost Lake (approximately one mile) and Horseshoe Lake. 

Turning south, the trail becomes steeper and somewhat rockier. When you reach Horseshoe Lake elevation 11,950 feet, you experience the beauty of the lake and views from another spectacular vista point.  Horseshoe Lake is at timberline; it is often windswept.  Please do not damage the ancient bristle cone pine shrubs around the shoreline. 

Map of Horseshoe Lake/East Fork Trail 56 (pdf file)

At a Glance

Permit Info: A fishing license and trout stamps are required in New Mexico for fishing Hoseshoe Lake.
Open Season: June
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Restrictions: Camping and campfires are not permitted along the lake shore to prevent soil and water damage.  Please pick a campsite at least 300 feet from the lake.  Horseshoe Lake is stocked by helicopter with native cutthroat trout.  
Information Center: For more information contact:  Questa Ranger District.

General Information

General Notes:

Photo of Horseshoe Lake



Show detail SHOW

Horse Riding & Camping

Show detail SHOW

Winter Sports

Show detail SHOW
Areas & Activities



  Area/Length : 
4.9 miles

  Elevation : 
9,650 feet - 11,950 feet