Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, located in the states of Oregon and Idaho, is a stunning destination that offers unparalleled beauty and thrilling adventure for horseback riders. With its rugged mountains, deep canyons, and wild rivers, this vast area is a horse lover's paradise. Whether you're an experienced rider or a novice looking to explore this wild terrain, here are some of the best horse trails that Hells Canyon has to offer.
1. Hat Point Trail:
One of the most iconic trails in Hells Canyon, the Hat Point Trail offers panoramic views of the canyon and the Snake River. This 10-mile trail starts at a high elevation and winds through pine forests before reaching the lookout point. The challenging terrain rewards riders with breathtaking vistas of the rugged landscapes. Be prepared for steep drop-offs and narrow sections, but the awe-inspiring scenery makes this trail worth every step.
2. Seven Devils Loop Trail:
For a multi-day adventure, the Seven Devils Loop Trail is a must-ride. This 26-mile loop is not for the faint of heart, as it takes you through high elevation backcountry areas and offers some strenuous climbs. However, the effort is rewarded with stunning vistas of rugged peaks, hidden lakes, and deep canyons. This is a trail that will test your horsemanship skills and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
3. Devils Creek Trail:
If you're looking for a more moderate ride that still showcases the beauty of Hells Canyon, Devils Creek Trail is an excellent choice. This 14-mile out-and-back trail follows the banks of the Snake River, offering access to pristine fishing spots and remote campsites. You'll ride through open meadows and dense forests, providing a diverse riding experience. Keep an eye out for wildlife, as deer and elk are frequently spotted along the trail.
4. Imnaha River Trail:
Another incredible trail that takes you through diverse landscapes is the Imnaha River Trail. This 8-mile trail is known for its lush forests, crystal-clear rivers, and rocky canyons. Imnaha River has some river crossings, so be prepared for wet boots. The trail ends at the Imnaha Guard Station, offering an excellent opportunity for an overnight stay or a rest before continuing your adventure.
5. Freezeout Saddle Trail:
For those seeking a unique riding experience, the Freezeout Saddle Trail is a must-try. This 14-mile loop takes riders through a high alpine setting with stunning wildflower meadows, wildlife sightings, and breathtaking vistas of the Wallowa Mountains. The trail gains and drops elevation quickly, offering a thrilling adventure with plenty of opportunities for photos and relaxation in the beautiful meadows.
When exploring these horse trails in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles, respecting the stunning environment around you. Bring essential gear, including a map, compass, and enough food and water for you and your horse. Check weather forecasts and trail conditions before setting out, as the trails can become inaccessible during certain times of the year.
Whether you're drawn to the challenging heights of Hat Point, the ruggedness of the Seven Devils Loop, or the mesmerizing beauty of the Imnaha River, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area provides an unforgettable horseback riding experience. Saddle up and embark on an adventure that will leave you with memories of breathtaking landscapes and the freedom of riding through one of the most awe-inspiring terrains in the United States.