Horseshoe Creek flows off the northern slope of the Fort Wayne Moraine, through a gentle rolling landscape and into the Huron River in Hamburg Township in Livingston County. Before European settlement, the watershed was mostly oak-hickory forest with wet prairie wetlands along drainages and the creek. Closer to the Huron, tamarack and black spruce swamps (very rare in the watershed) grew in depressions. Through the 19th and 20th century, much of the area was drained and converted to agriculture, and the creekshed is still primarily used for agriculture today. In the early to mid-20th century, Horseshoe Creekshed was a popular vacation destination thanks to the 575-acre Whitmore Lake, and a town based on the tourism and named after the lake sprouted up along its shores.
Horseshoe creekshed falls primarily in Northfield Township, Washtenaw County. However, the northern 20% of the creekshed, near the mouth of the creek, is in Hamburg and Green Oak townships in Livingston County. Tiny slivers of the creek are found in Salem, Ann Arbor, and Webster townships in Washtenaw County.
Horseshoe Creek is made of two channels that empty into Horseshoe Lake that then form the main branch of the creek that flows out of the lake. The two tributaries are a total of 15 miles, and the main branch is 6.5 miles, The creeks upstream of Horseshoe Lake often do not have flowing water during dry weather. The creek’s average slope is 10 feet per mile, which is less steep than other tributaries to the Huron River (16 feet per mile is average). There are 8 lakes in the creekshed (open water greater than 5 acres), including Whitmore Lake, Horseshoe Lake, and Hamburg Lake, all of which are surrounded by houses and are popular places for fishing and boating. There are 10 ponds in the creekshed (open water less than 5 acres.)