Nestled in the heart of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, the Kalkaska State Forest provides an idyllic setting for nature enthusiasts and equestrians to explore. With its rolling hills, dense forests, and sparkling lakes, this 90,000-acre forest offers a plethora of horse trails that cater to riders of all levels. Whether you're a seasoned rider or a novice, the Kalkaska State Forest has something for everyone. In this article, we will explore some of the best horse trails this forest has to offer.
1. High Country Pathway: Spanning nearly 70 miles, the High Country Pathway is a remarkable trail that traverses through parts of the state forest. This trail not only offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape but also takes riders through various terrains, including rustic roads, two-tracks, and single-track trails. It is advisable to take this trail in sections, as completing the entire length in one trip can be quite challenging. Be sure to plan accordingly and pack enough supplies for your journey.
2. The Sand Lakes Quiet Area: Known for its serene atmosphere and breathtaking lakes, the Sand Lakes Quiet Area is a must-visit for horse enthusiasts. This trail system is around 13 miles long and offers picturesque views of small and large lakes, wetlands, and forested areas. The trail is well-maintained, and the terrain is relatively flat, making it ideal for riders looking for a leisurely ride. Pack a picnic lunch and take a well-deserved break by one of the lakes to truly experience the tranquility of this area.
3. Jordan Valley Pathway - East: The Jordan Valley Pathway offers a unique experience for horseback riders by taking them on a journey through some of Michigan's most spectacular glacial landscapes. With its 18-mile loop trail, riders can enjoy breathtaking views of the Jordan River, rolling hills, and picturesque forests. The terrain can be moderately challenging at times, with some steep sections, but the reward is well worth the effort. Make sure to bring a camera, as this trail offers plenty of photo opportunities.
4. Rapid River/Keystone Trail System: If you're looking for a trail that offers a mix of scenic beauty and a thrilling ride, the Rapid River/Keystone Trail System is a great choice. With over 45 miles of interconnected trails, riders can explore various loops and sections of the forest. The trail system winds through forests, across streams, and up ridges, providing a diverse riding experience. Experienced riders will enjoy the challenge of some steeper sections, while novices can take advantage of the easier portions of the trails.
5. Blue Bear Trail: Known for its abundant wildlife and peaceful surroundings, the Blue Bear Trail is another gem in the Kalkaska State Forest. This predominantly single-track trail offers riders the opportunity to spot deer, various bird species, and maybe even a black bear. The 7.5-mile loop takes riders through a picturesque forest, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Keep in mind that parts of this trail can become muddy after rainfall, so be prepared with appropriate footwear for both you and your horse.
Before embarking on any horse trail in the Kalkaska State Forest, it's crucial to check trail conditions, obtain necessary permits, and ensure you are well-prepared with proper equipment and supplies. Safety should always be your top priority when riding, so be sure to follow all regulations and guidelines set by the forest authorities.
From beautiful lakeside rides to challenging terrains, the Kalkaska State Forest offers an assortment of horse trails that will leave riders in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds them. So, saddle up and embark on an unforgettable equine adventure amidst the splendor of this remarkable forest.