Bighorn National Forest is a stunning 1.1 million-acre expanse of land in north-central Wyoming. With its pristine beauty and diverse ecosystems, it's no wonder that horse enthusiasts flock to this area to explore its numerous trails. Whether you're an experienced equestrian or a casual rider, Bighorn National Forest offers a variety of horse trails that cater to all skill levels. In this article, we will explore some of the best horse trails in this national forest.
1. West Ten Sleep Trail: This 22-mile trail is one of the most popular horseback riding routes in Bighorn National Forest. It starts at the West Ten Sleep Trailhead and winds through beautiful meadows, aspen groves, and rocky outcrops. The trail offers spectacular views of West Ten Sleep Creek and nearby peaks, making it an ideal choice for both beginner and intermediate riders.
2. Cloud Peak Circle Trail: For those seeking a more challenging and adventurous experience, the Cloud Peak Circle Trail is a must-try. This 27-mile loop trail takes you through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Bighorn Mountains. Expect to traverse alpine meadows filled with wildflowers, cross streams and creeks, and be rewarded with panoramic views of Cloud Peak and the surrounding peaks. It's important to note that this trail requires good horsemanship skills due to its steep sections and rugged terrain.
3. Hidden Falls Trail: Located near the eastern edge of Bighorn National Forest, Hidden Falls Trail offers a pleasant and relatively easy riding experience. This 10-mile out-and-back trail takes you to a picturesque waterfall, nestled amidst limestone cliffs. Along the way, you'll pass through lush forests, open meadows, and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding Absaroka Range. The trail is horse-friendly, well-maintained, and suitable for riders of all experience levels.
4. Tongue River Canyon Trail: If you're looking for a trail that combines scenic beauty with historical significance, the Tongue River Canyon Trail is an excellent choice. This 11-mile trail follows the path of the historic Bozeman Trail, which was used by emigrants during the mid-1800s. As you traverse the canyon, you'll enjoy breathtaking views of towering cliffs, rugged rock formations, and the tranquil Tongue River. This trail can be steep in some sections but is generally manageable for novice riders.
5. Red Grade Trail: The Red Grade Trail is a popular option for riders looking for a shorter and less strenuous ride. This 6-mile trail offers stunning views of Bighorn National Forest and the nearby Bighorn Basin. With its gentle slopes and wide trail, it's suitable for riders of all skill levels, including families with children. Don't forget to stop at several scenic overlooks along the way to soak in the beauty of the forest.
When exploring Bighorn National Forest on horseback, it's essential to practice good trail etiquette and respect the environment. Obtain necessary permits, follow all trail regulations, and ensure your horse is adequately trained and equipped for the terrain. Additionally, remember to pack essentials such as water, snacks, a first-aid kit, and proper navigation tools.
Whichever trail you choose in Bighorn National Forest, you're guaranteed to experience the awe-inspiring beauty of this remarkable wilderness. So saddle up, embrace the serenity of the forest, and let your trusty steed carry you on an unforgettable journey through one of Wyoming's most treasured natural gems.