The Arapaho National Forest, located in the heart of Colorado, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering breathtaking landscapes and remarkable horse trails. With over 1.7 million acres of pristine wilderness, this national forest is a paradise waiting to be explored on horseback. From scenic mountain views to enchanting forested paths, here are some of the best horse trails that the Arapaho National Forest has to offer.
1. Monarch Lake Loop:
One of the most popular trails within the forest, the Monarch Lake Loop, showcases the dazzling beauty of the Rockies. This 4.5-mile loop trail is suitable for riders of all skill levels and takes you along the serene shores of Monarch Lake. Surrounded by towering peaks and dense pine forests, you and your horse will be treated to picturesque vistas at every turn. Keep an eye out for abundant wildlife like elk, deer, and even bald eagles that call this area home.
2. Junco Lake Trail:
For those seeking a more challenging adventure, the Junco Lake Trail is a must-visit. Located on the southern end of the Arapaho National Forest, this 13-mile trail takes riders through alpine meadows, dense forests, and across gushing streams. As you ascend the mountains, you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and the sparkling Junco Lake. Be prepared for some steep climbs and rocky terrains, but the stunning landscapes will make it all worthwhile.
3. Columbine Lake Trail:
Nestled in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, the Columbine Lake Trail offers a fantastic horseback riding experience. This moderate 6.4-mile trail starts at the west end of Monarch Lake and winds through wildflower-strewn meadows, towering aspen groves, and magnificent alpine terrain. As you ride higher, the trail opens up to scenic vistas of glacial valleys and the radiant blue waters of Columbine Lake. Don't forget to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy by the tranquil shores of this mountain gem.
4. Twin Sisters Peak:
If you're up for an equestrian adventure that combines breathtaking views with a bit of a challenge, the Twin Sisters Peak Trail won't disappoint. This 7.6-mile out-and-back trail leads riders to the summit of Twin Sisters Peak, offering sweeping panoramas of the Rocky Mountains. As you ascend, the trail becomes steeper, but your efforts will be rewarded with awe-inspiring views of Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the surrounding valleys. A good level of fitness and experience is recommended for this trail, as it can be a bit challenging for novice riders.
5. Caribou Pass Trail:
For those looking to escape the crowds and immerse themselves in the serenity of nature, the Caribou Pass Trail is a hidden gem. This 6.8-mile trail begins near the ghost town of Eldora and gradually ascends to Caribou Pass in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. As you ride through spruce and fir forests, keep an eye out for abundant wildlife, including moose and black bears. The trail culminates at Caribou Pass, where you'll be greeted by breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and snow-capped peaks.
Before embarking on any horseback riding adventure in the Arapaho National Forest, ensure that you are well-prepared. Check with the forest service for any trail closures, pack plenty of water and snacks, and be sure to bring a map and compass. Additionally, it is essential to respect the environment by staying on designated trails and properly disposing of any waste.
The Arapaho National Forest provides a pristine and diverse landscape for horseback riding enthusiasts. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced rider, the variety of trails offered within this breathtaking forest will provide unforgettable equestrian experiences. So, saddle up, explore the beauty of the Arapaho National Forest, and create lasting memories with your trusty steed.