Lewis and Clark National Forest, located in the heart of Montana, is a true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With its vast wilderness, rugged mountains, and diverse ecosystems, this national forest offers some of the best horse trails in the entire country. Whether you're a seasoned rider or new to horseback riding, Lewis and Clark National Forest has something for everyone. Here, we explore the top horse trails that make this forest a haven for equestrians.
1. Gibson Lake Trail: This picturesque trail, nestled in the Little Belt Mountains, is a popular choice for horseback riders. Spanning approximately 8 miles roundtrip, the Gibson Lake Trail offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The trail meanders through lush meadows, dense forests, and rocky outcrops, providing riders with a variety of terrain. As you ride, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as deer, elk, and even the occasional black bear. The highlight of the trail is, of course, the beautiful Gibson Lake itself, where riders can take a break and enjoy the serene atmosphere before heading back.
2. Storm Lake Trail: For those seeking a more challenging adventure, the Storm Lake Trail is a must. This trail stretches approximately 16 miles roundtrip and takes riders to the stunning Storm Lake nestled within the Big Snowy Mountains. The trail winds through dense forests, steep switchbacks, and rocky terrains, providing an exhilarating experience. With magnificent views of the surrounding peaks and valleys, Storm Lake offers a perfect spot to rest, take in the scenic beauty, and even camp overnight. The trail is best suited for experienced riders and horses due to its difficulty level.
3. Blacklead Mountain Trail: If you're looking for a trail that offers a taste of the forest's rugged beauty, the Blacklead Mountain Trail won't disappoint. Spanning around 12 miles roundtrip, this trail takes riders through dense forests, along crystal-clear streams, and up to the summit of Blacklead Mountain itself. The trail features breathtaking views of the surrounding wilderness, including the rugged Rocky Mountains and vast grassy plains. The trail can be moderately challenging at times, but the reward of reaching the mountain's summit is well worth the effort.
4. Tenderfoot Creek Trail: This trail offers a unique experience through the beautiful Tenderfoot Creek Wilderness. Stretching approximately 10 miles roundtrip, the Tenderfoot Creek Trail takes riders through dense forests, sprawling meadows, and along the tranquil banks of Tenderfoot Creek itself. The trail showcases the forest's rich biodiversity with its diverse flora and fauna. Known for its abundant wildlife, riders can often spot deer, elk, and various bird species along the way. The trail offers multiple picturesque spots for rest and relaxation, making it an excellent choice for riders of all skill levels.
5. South Fork Sun River Trail: For a longer adventure, the South Fork Sun River Trail is a wonderful choice. Extending about 30 miles roundtrip, this trail leads riders through the stunning Sun River Canyon. As riders traverse this picturesque trail, they'll pass by pristine alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, and towering peaks. The trail is diverse in terms of terrain, offering riders a mix of rocky slopes, vast meadows, and dense forests. Camping options along the trail make it ideal for multi-day excursions, allowing riders to fully immerse themselves in the beauty of Lewis and Clark National Forest.
In conclusion, Lewis and Clark National Forest boasts an impressive array of horse trails that cater to riders of all abilities. Whether you're seeking a leisurely ride through meadows or an adrenaline-pumping adventure through rugged mountains, this national forest has it all. From the picturesque Gibson Lake Trail to the challenging Storm Lake Trail, the trails at Lewis and Clark National Forest offer unforgettable experiences for horseback riders. So, saddle up, explore the wilderness, and discover the unparalleled beauty of Montana's natural gem.