Tuesday ยท July 11, 2023
Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests: Top Horse Trails | July 2023
Author: Admin

The Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests, located in the beautiful state of South Carolina, offer an unparalleled experience for horseback riders. Spanning a whopping one million acres, these pristine national forests are home to a variety of enchanting horse trails, providing riders with awe-inspiring scenery, abundant wildlife, and a chance to reconnect with nature. Whether you are a novice rider or an experienced equestrian, these top horse trails in Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests are sure to leave you in awe.


1. Wambaw Cycle Trail: The Wambaw Cycle Trail is a 40-mile multi-use trail that accommodates hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Nestled in the heart of Francis Marion National Forest, this trail is a hidden gem for equestrians. It features a well-marked and maintained path that winds through towering pine forests, alongside tranquil blackwater swamps, and across picturesque creeks. The trail is dotted with primitive campsites, allowing riders to embark on overnight adventures. Keep an eye out for deer, wild turkeys, and a variety of songbirds that call this area home.


2. Swamp Fox Passage: Spanning 47 miles, the Swamp Fox Passage is part of the larger Palmetto Trail system and cuts through Francis Marion National Forest. This trail is a must-ride for horse enthusiasts seeking a truly immersive experience in South Carolina's natural landscapes. As you ride along the sandy pathways, through towering longleaf pines and hardwood forests, you'll encounter magical Cypress swamps and meandering blackwater creeks. The trail's diverse terrain and breathtaking vistas make every mile a memorable one.


3. Liberty Hill Trail: Located in the heart of Sumter National Forest, the Liberty Hill Trail treats riders to picturesque views of the Piedmont region. Spanning approximately 12 miles, this trail showcases the area's lush foliage, wildflowers, and historic sites. While on the trail, take a moment to explore the Liberty Hill Interpretive Trail, an easy loop that provides fascinating insights into the region's history and natural wonders. As you trot along, keep an eye out for a variety of wildlife, including deer, bobcats, and even the occasional black bear.


4. Manchester State Forest: Although not part of the national forest, the nearby Manchester State Forest offers an excellent opportunity for horseback riders to explore picturesque trails. With over 20 miles of equestrian trails, riders can saddle up and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of this Lowcountry gem. The Longleaf Horse Trail is a popular route, winding through towering longleaf pine trees and offering peaceful views of the surrounding swamps and wetlands. Be sure to obtain a trail map and any required permits before embarking on your ride in Manchester State Forest.


5. Forks Area Trail System (FATS): While technically located outside the national forests, FATS is worth mentioning due to its proximity and popularity among equestrians. Located in nearby Sumter County, this 37-mile trail system is primarily designed for mountain bikers but is open to equestrians as well. The varied trail network offers several loops, each with its own unique character and difficulty level, allowing riders of all abilities to find a suitable adventure. Surrounded by towering pines and hardwoods, the FATS trails promise an exhilarating ride through diverse terrains.


Before hitting the trails, ensure you have the appropriate permits, maps, and equipment to safely enjoy your equestrian adventure in Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests. Additionally, remember to practice responsible horsemanship, including leaving no trace, respecting wildlife, and yielding to other trail users.


Whether you choose the Wambaw Cycle Trail, the Swamp Fox Passage, or any of the other incredible horse trails in Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests, you are certain to create memories that will last a lifetime. Saddle up, breathe in the fresh air, and embark on an unforgettable equestrian journey through the wild wonders of South Carolina's national forests.