Horseshoe Lake

Making Connections

  • Portage Northwest, 20 rods, to Lake Three
  • Portage Southeast, 85 rods, to Brewis


  • Fisher F-4, One, Two, Three, Four, Bald Eagle, Insula Lakes
  • McKenzie 18, Lake One


  • DNR Lake No. 380580
  • Lake Map No. C0066
  • Lake Table No. 6B
  • MDH Fish Consumption Advisory - N/A
  • MPCA Water Quality - N/A
Horseshoe Lake
Scale 1:21420
Full image approximately 2 miles square


Horseshoe is a moderate sized lake in the Kawishiwi River drainage, 7½ miles northwest of Forest Center, and 18½ miles east of Ely. Bilobe in form and roughly symetrical, Horseshoes two paired bays cover a total of 194 acres, with a maximum depth of 40'. Most of the lake bottom, however, is in the highly productive littoral zone, less than 15' below the surface. At the far eastern end of the lake is the mouth of Path Creek, which originates at Rock of Ages to the south, passing through Mirror, Path, and Brewis on its 4½ mile course down to Horseshoe. Just south of the mouth of Path Creek, an 85 rod, up-and-over portage climbs steadily, to crest 57' above Horseshoe, before dropping back some 45', and quite steeply near the end, into Brewis. Out of the west end of Horseshoe, an easy, slightly downhill, 20 rod carry connects with Lake Three, crossing the Pow Wow Hiking Trail on the way.

Most of the forest around Horseshoe is some 175 years old, dating back to the fire of 1824, while remnant stands dating back to the earlier, stand replacing fire of 1796 do survive. Only on the southwestern shore is the forest significantly younger, the area having burned over in the fire of 1910. The Independence Day windstorms of 1999 had their greatest impact off the south shore of the lake, the area extending to Rock of Ages having sustained standing tree losses estimated at between 10% and 33%.


Horseshoe supports three established campsites, one in the eastern bay and two in the western. Despite its close proximity to Lake Three, the separation provided by the 20 rod portage is enough to yield a significant improvement in the quality of the wilderness experience at Horseshoe over and against the larger, more popular lake. Sound carries well, however, as we listened one evening, from our Horseshe camp, to a series of obvious bear visits to sites on Lake Three, complete with shouts and the banging of pans. The bear never bothered us. Given the choice between Horseshoe and Three, we will always camp on Horeseshoe.

Planning Considerations

Horseshoe is a link in the North Wilder Loop which runs from the Number Lakes Three and Four on the Kawishiwi, east and north, through Horseshoe, Brewis, Harbor, and North Wilder, to return to the Kawishiwi just above Lake Four. The lakes on this loop provide a welcome escape from the bustle of the nearby Number Lakes. Unfortunately, one cannot, without serious bushwhacking, visit these lakes without running the gauntlet of those oh so popular lakes on the Kawishiwi. If you do expect to be on the Number Lakes to Insula route, however, this is one of the very best of detours.


Horseshoe supports populations of Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Burbot (Lota lota), Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Tullibee (Cisco) (Coregonus artedi), Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens).

Notes and Comments

Horseshoe is presumably named for its shape, though a rather broad and flattened horseshoe it is.

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004