Horseshoe Ridge in the Clouds

Horseshoe Ridge rises up from the flats around the Sandy River, climbing up to meet the Zigzag mountain range west of Mt. Hood. The top of the ridge is a rocky boulder pile of a summit covered in beargrass and blueberries. There is a gorgeous open grassy viewpoint just south on the Zigzag Mountain Trail from where the Horseshoe Ridge Trail ends.

The hike is long uphill journey. A good place to park is just before the bridge over Lost Creek on the road into Riley Horse Camp just off of Muddy Fork Road, or if that is crowded, and the parking lot at the Horse Camp. The Horseshoe Ridge Trail #774 trail begins just north of the Lost Creek Bridge, heading west off the road. On the other side of the road the Sandy River Trail heads northeast.

The first three quarters of a mile travels through the sandy flat, the ground covered in small glacial debris and colorful carpets of moss. When the trail enters the woods, there is a large log that crosses Lost Creek, and then the trail begins the climb up the ridge.

It’s all up hill through a great variety of forest and along some rocky outcropping on the ridges.

When I hiked the ridge a dense cloud had enveloped the forest and closed in on the trail, quieting forest.

As I neared the top, the winds grew and finally a rain so chilled it neared snow started to cut through, freezing my hands. At the rocky summit of the ridge I didn’t linger as everything was getting slick and near ice.

The return journey was all downhill, and I ran the whole route. Up and back is 12 miles and almost 3000 feet of elevation gain. A longer loop could be made by heading east and returning via the Cast Creek Trail.

Published by Jim Wilson

An avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast, I settled in Oregon after years of working on hiking trails in Southeast Alaska with the USFS and exploring the Pacific Northwest and rest of the country in the offseason.

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