Friday, January 10, 2020

Horseshoe Lake, Pend Oreille County, Washington

Click on pic to enlarge
Horseshoe Lake (128 acres)
This lake as its name indicates is shaped like a horseshoe. There is also a small lake next to it (southwest side) called Blue Lake. Horseshoe Lake is a very popular kayaking, sailing, and fishing lake. Because there is a 5 mph speed limit jet skis and ski boats can not use this lake. I would say that this lake is one of the most unique small lakes within the Inland NW because of its shape, features, and vista. On the northeast side of the lake is a beautiful waterfall called Exley Falls with some small pools at its base that during the hot summer some people will sit in to cool off. There is also a pool above the falls, called Corine pool... see directions below. The falls and this lake is part of the Little Spokane River. This river via the falls feeds into the lake and then exits it on the southeast side. Another unique feature is the geological marvel called the Devil's Well, which is directly south of the falls on the east side of the lake (see info below). This well is a large vertical and round hole in the rock. Not to distract from the wonder of this feature but the interesting fact about this well is it was created much in the same way a toilet creates a circular flushing motion. Water cascades into the well and swirls, and then the water exits the well via cracks in the well walls and sometimes overflows during spring runoff and runs down the hill into the lake. The only time of year you can see this action is during spring runoff as there is no constant flow of water such as a creek that feeds the well throughout the dry season. The well always has water in it and is a must see.  Continuing south after the well you will enter the southeast end of the lake and the little Spokane river. If you portage over the logs that block the river you will enter a series of river pools that are enjoyable to paddle or swim in when there is little current in the Little Spokane River. 

This lake includes a wide gravel launch, large gravel parking lot, one vault toilet (yuck)... see more details below. Discovery Pass required to use this site.  For the pass and fishing info call the WA. Fish & Game, Spokane office, 509-456-4082. 

Fishing: Rainbow Trout, Kokanee, Largemouth Bass, Yellow Perch, Crappie, Brown Bullhead Catfish. Bait typically used? Troll with wedding ring spinners tipped with maggots. Season is April-Oct. Catching 10 lb. fish is not uncommon on this lake. See Directions and Maps below...

Boat Launch
This is the only boat launch/access point on this lake. Directions: Take U.S. 2 north from Spokane for 20 miles and turn west (left) on Eloika Lake Road, following it three miles to Division Road. Turn north (right) on Division Road, which becomes Horseshoe Lake Road somewhere along the line, and follow it 7.5 miles to the lake. Maps: Visit and type in Horseshoe Lake, Pend Oreille County, WA. or type in GPS coordinates 48.109112, -117.422592
ACCESSIBILITY: PARKING... Large gravel parking lot; PATHS/TRAILS... No official paths. Wide gravel launch to water. Typically no powerboats present due to the 5 mph speed limit; RESTROOMS/FACILITIES/SHADE… Restrooms, not accessible to wheelchairs. Not in great shape... Yuck! Shade via trees; DOCKS/LAUNCHES/PLATFORMS… No docks, One wide gravel launch about 3% grade; DIRECT WATER ACCESS… No access for wheeled mobility devices. Wide gravel area that leads into the water. Watch out for mud; TRANSFER SYSTEMS... None; SENSORY... No sensory tactile markers for those with visual and other impairments. CAMPING... Not at boat launch but primitive camping in wooded area by Devil's Well; O.T.H.E.R… Oddities/Barriers: Limited access. Mud; Terrain: Level to 10% plus grades; H2O/Water: Water clear most of the year. Water temperature in the summer can be around 60 to 70 degree. No drinking water available; Environmental Conditions: Varies; Resources: Food, drinks, and gas not available close by.

Exley Waterfall 
Directions: To access the waterfall travel after leaving the boat launch via boat northeast to a narrow short passage into the east side of the lake, once through the passage you will easily see the falls. Maps: Visit and type in Horseshoe Lake, Pend Oreille County, WA. or type in GPS 48.114133, -117.410710
ACCESSIBILITY: One can at times paddle up to the waterfall when depth of water allows (typically in spring and early summer) but shoreline is muddy and lots of deep grass.

Corine Pool above Exley Waterfall
Directions: Follow directions to falls and then hike up the north side of the falls. Beware its a very steep and rough hike to the pool. Maps: Visit and type in GPS coordinates 48.114117, -117.40960
ACCESSIBILITY: This pool is accessed via hiking up steep bank with big boulders, then hiking through deep grass, etc.

Devil's Well (Elevation 2,037 feet)
The Devil's Well is about 50 feet wide and 80 ft deep. One can not get into the well due to the steep cliffs all the way around it. The hike to the well is very steep off about 10% grade or better. Directions: To access the well travel after leaving the boat launch via boat northeast to a narrow short passage into the east side of the lake, once through the passage you will easily see the Exley Waterfall. Turn south pass the waterfall and you will pass through a narrow passage with cliffs on either side. Once through the passage and going several hundred feet to your left/east you will see inclined wooded area with a well traveled trail up the hill to the well. The trail is only about 100 ft long or so to the well at about a 10% grade or more, very steep. Maps: Visit and type in Horseshoe Lake, Pend Oreille County, WA. or type in GPS coordinates for Trailhead 48.111683, -117.409467 or these coordinates for the well 48.111777, -117.408549
ACCESSIBILITY: Hike up extremely steep hill and close to top over some steep boulders. Ground at times is covered in loose small dirt and small rocks.


  1. Very cool place... but you left out the part of "t-bone" 75 ft cliff that some daring people jump off right after the well. Jumping from this height can be very dangerous, not recommended. and right before the waterfall there is some 30 ft cliff to jump off have to climb cliff face... kinda sketchy... and to the left of that... was the most bad ass rope swing from a huge tree... and to whom cut the tree down... your a poor cutter... learn how to use a chainsaw... phh

    1. Posted this message for phh since he could not seem to get his post to work.

  2. The picture of the devils well you have up is really old. A large tree has fallen into the well and now serves as a ladder to get out. I was there today. I believe the tree is also on google earth imagery.

    1. Good to know. I have not been there in about 2 years. Will have to go back now and take a pic of the well with the tree in it.

  3. Spent yesterday kayaking Horseshoe Lake - totally awesome! Quiet and serene - we were there mid morning and were only a few others on the Lake. The falls are beautiful and the eastern portion of the lake had lots of photo ops of turtles sunning themselves. Will be returning in spite of the washboardy road and the disgusting outhouse.

    1. Hope our lakes information was useful to you. Horseshoe Lake is one of my favorite small lakes, has so many unique features.