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A densely populated trail of both flora and fauna alike.


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Map Key

12.8

Miles

20.6

KM

Point to Point

4,959' 1,511 m

High

2,159' 658 m

Low

2,816' 858 m

Up

31' 10 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

15%

Max Grade (9°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Need to Know

Now I know why this trail was so easy to get a permit for - it was AWFUL! Hiked on 6/23/22 - 6/24/22. Lots of mosquitoes.

Description

The Horse Creek Trail traverses the area from north to east. The hike from this trails northern trailhead traverses some of the oldest and largest forest groves within the wilderness. The trailhead is located on a high ridge making for a fairly level and easy first mile. The trail snakes around towering firs, spruces and hemlocks, some with diameters exceeding seven feet.

Massive ferns cover the forest floor, and moss hangs from the 400-year-old trees. The path is well-maintained along the ridge but just past mile 2, the trail turns downhill where it begins a steep, switchback descent toward Drift Creek. Towards the end of the creek feel free to go fishing for salmon or trout before heading back along the path. The trail leads into Horse Lake Trail (continuation of Horse Creek).

From McKenzie Bridge, OR, you travel south on Horse Creek Rd which becomes dirt road NF 2638. The trailhead is located right off this road and is well marked.

The trail begins with a quick descent to Horse Creek which crosses it via a log bridge. You're then on to a constant uphill climb through nothing but forest, and I do mean nothing else. No clearings, no features, no views, just forest. In time, you come to a series of three switchbacks which lead up and away from the water.

Eventually, you come to a spot where you cross a narrow creek with no means to cross other than get your feet wet, or go slightly left and make a little jump over. As you continue on you're still heading uphill until you eventually come to another small creek crossing. This one is easily traversed with some zigzagged logs in the water. TURN BACK NOW!

The trail at this point flattens out considerably which was a welcome sight, BUT, the trail now follows a slow-moving and downright stagnant stream for miles. This section of the hike I dubbed "Mosquito Alley." Swarms of mosquitos attacked us like we had pissed them off intentionally. We eventually came away from Mosquito Alley at the point where the trail intersects with the Separation Lake Trail, but my arms are now covered with at least 100 red welts. If you dare traverse this trail, be sure and slather yourself in deet. We did this on the way back and although we were still swarmed, they mostly left us alone.

Just under two miles the Separation Lake Trail, you'll encounter the cutoffs for Water Holes Trail and Nash Lake Trail. There is LITERALLY nothing to look at except trees. The trail was becoming less and less defined by this time. We stopped at 8 miles in. The next day we hiked another 2 miles before we lost the trail completely. We literally ran out of trail.

Overall, major disappointment. Not maintained in some time and ends before Horse Lake.

Flora & Fauna

Sitka spruce, hemlock, Douglas fir, poison ivy, moss every where you turn.

Contacts

Shared By:

Justin S. with improvements by J S

Trail Ratings

  3.5 from 4 votes

#24501

Overall
  3.5 from 4 votes
5 Star
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1 Star
25%
Trail Rankings

#763

in Oregon

#24,501

Overall
5 Views Last Month
2,351 Since Apr 29, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate

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Photos

View from Horse Lake peninsula
Jan 30, 2021 near Deschut…, OR
Streamin'
Apr 29, 2015 near McKenzi…, OR
Big ol' tree
Apr 29, 2015 near McKenzi…, OR
Feelin' mossy on the Horse Creek Trail
Apr 29, 2015 near McKenzi…, OR
Horse Lake with peninsula in background.
Jan 30, 2021 near Deschut…, OR
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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Minor Issues 21 days ago
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Check-Ins

Jun 19, 2021
Jodie G
3 day backpacking trip. Well maintained to Nash Lake turn off, then some overgrown sections. Mosquitos bad Nash Lake turn off to Horse Lake.
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