Deschutes National Forest, located in central Oregon, is a haven for horse enthusiasts. With its vast and diverse landscapes, the forest offers a plethora of opportunities to explore on horseback. From towering Ponderosa pine forests to meandering rivers and open meadows, Deschutes National Forest has some of the most beautiful and picturesque horse trails in the region. In this article, we will explore the best horse trails at Deschutes National Forest that you must experience.
1. Metolius-Windigo Trail: This iconic trail stretches more than 100 miles, offering an incredible adventure for horse riders. The trail traverses the heart of Deschutes National Forest and showcases breathtaking views of volcanic landscapes, old-growth forests, and clear mountain lakes. The diverse terrain allows riders to experience different ecosystems, from dense woodlands to rocky ridges. Be sure to plan your journey in sections as the full trail may require several days to complete.
2. Green Lakes Trail: This picturesque trail is a popular choice for horseback riding, thanks to its stunning alpine scenery. The trailhead is located near the spectacular Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, and it winds through subalpine meadows and forests. The highlight of this trail is the Green Lakes, which are crystal-clear and reflect the surrounding mountain peaks. You and your horse will enjoy the serene beauty of this trail, making it a must-ride experience.
3. Tumalo Falls Loop: If you are looking for a shorter yet equally rewarding trail, Tumalo Falls Loop should be on your list. The trail is known for its stunning waterfall, Tumalo Falls, which cascades 89 feet into a scenic gorge. The loop is about 8 miles long, showcasing majestic old-growth forests and panoramic vistas. This trail is perfect for a half-day adventure or a quick escape into nature.
4. Lava River Trail: As the name suggests, this trail offers a unique riding experience through the remnants of volcanic eruptions. The terrain is slightly challenging due to the rugged lava landscapes, but it's an excellent opportunity to witness the raw power of nature. The trail winds through lava fields and gives riders a chance to explore hidden caves and lava tubes. Embark on this trail for an unforgettable journey through lava-formed landscapes.
5. Peterson Ridge Loop: For riders seeking a mix of forested trails and open meadows, Peterson Ridge Loop is an excellent choice. This 25-mile loop provides a variety of terrains, including ponderosa pine forests, wildflower-filled meadows, and breathtaking views of the Cascade Mountains. The loop is well-maintained and offers plenty of opportunities for picnicking or taking a break to admire the surrounding scenery.
Whether you are an experienced equestrian or a novice rider, Deschutes National Forest has a trail for everyone. Remember to pack enough supplies, including water and food, as well as proper equipment for your horse. Respect the natural environment by staying on designated trails and following leave-no-trace principles.
Visiting Deschutes National Forest for a horseback riding adventure will undoubtedly create unforgettable memories. Experience the magic of this stunning forest and its diverse trails, and let the beauty of nature and the companionship of your horse take you on an incredible journey.