Horseshoe and Hackberry Ruins

Multi-story Pueblos and Towers

Featured Route
in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, CO
  • Total Length
    1.3mi
  • Ascent
    145ft
  • Difficulty
    Easy

The walking trail to Hackberry Canyon is a one-mile round-trip walk that includes the structures at both Horseshoe and Hackberry. Structures at these sites were built approximately 800 years ago by the ancestors of today’s Puebloan people. Today their descendents are among the Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona. – NPS Overview

Get Here
  • Hiking
  • Out & Back
  • Kid-Friendly
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Elevation Profile
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Timeline
1
Trailhead

Check road conditions with visitor center first, but high clearance and 4-wheel drive are generally recommended. Roads may be passable by cars in dry weather. 

Start Hiking
For 851ft
2
Ruin

Horseshoe Tower is built on a point that marks the start of the Horseshoe Site. From this tower, inhabitants could see clearly into Horseshoe Canyon. At one time, the tower was walled off from the mesa top, raising questions about the use of such structures for defense.

Continue Hiking
For 794ft
3
Ruin

Horseshoe House is composed of four masonry structures that together form a horseshoe shape. From the trail it is easy to see the precisely cut stone-masonry that forms the outside wall of Horseshoe House. Each stone was shaped for a precise fit before being set into place. Clay, sand, and ash, mixed with water from seeps in the canyon below, made the mortar that still holds these walls together. One unresolved question is whether specialized masons built these structures, or if the entire community contributed to their construction.

4
Ruin

Archeologists speculate that Hackberry canyon may have had one of the largest populations of all the Hovenweep units because of the constant seepage of water in the canyon. As many as 250 to 350 people may have lived here. It is unclear if the residents were related or represented different clans and lineages.

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