Exploring nature on horseback is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the great outdoors and experience a true sense of adventure. When it comes to stunning horse trails, few places can match the beauty and diversity found at Lolo National Forest in Western Montana. Spanning over 2 million acres of rugged mountains, lush forests, and picturesque rivers, Lolo National Forest is a haven for equestrians seeking breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable riding experiences. Here, we will outline some of the best horse trails within this stunning forest.
1. Ward Mountain Trail:
Located in the Missoula Ranger District, Ward Mountain Trail is a must-visit for horse enthusiasts. Ascending Ward Mountain, the trail offers incredible panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The well-marked trail is approximately 16 miles long and winds through dense forests, alpine meadows, and wildflower-covered slopes. Keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife that calls this area home, including deer, elk, and various bird species.
2. Jerry Johnson Hot Springs Trail:
For those looking to combine an epic trail ride with a relaxing thermal soak, the Jerry Johnson Hot Springs Trail is the perfect choice. This picturesque 6-mile trail begins on Lolo Creek Road and meanders along beautiful streams and verdant forests before reaching the natural hot springs. Saddle up and enjoy a dip in the soothing hot springs while admiring the beautiful surrounding scenery.
3. Lee Ridge Trail:
Venture into the stunning Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness on the Lee Ridge Trail, a scenic route that showcases the awe-inspiring grandeur of the region. The trail offers a moderate 10-mile loop that takes riders through old-growth cedar and spruce forests, passing by sparkling mountain streams and waterfalls. As you ascend, the trail opens up to breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountaintops, creating unforgettable memories.
4. Schafer Meadows Loop:
For a longer and more challenging adventure, the Schafer Meadows Loop is a fantastic choice. Spanning 28 miles, this loop trail takes you deep into the heart of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Riding alongside crystal-clear rivers and through dense forests, you'll be surrounded by cascading waterfalls and ancient trees. This trail is ideal for experienced riders seeking a multi-day horseback adventure with plenty of jaw-dropping landscapes.
5. Lolo Creek Trail:
If you're looking for a picturesque trail ride while exploring the Lolo Creek drainage area, the Lolo Creek Trail won't disappoint. Meandering alongside the creek, this 10-mile path takes riders through a mix of open meadows, towering pines, and vibrant wildflowers. Keep your camera handy, as you may catch glimpses of wildlife such as black bears, moose, and deer roaming through the lush surroundings.
Before embarking on any trail ride at Lolo National Forest, it's important to plan accordingly and come prepared with appropriate gear, maps, and supplies. Ensure that your horse is well-trained and conditioned for the challenging terrain. Additionally, be aware of any seasonal closures, permit requirements, or restrictions that may be in place to protect the delicate ecosystem.
With its breathtaking landscapes and diverse trails, Lolo National Forest offers equestrians a true haven for horseback exploration. From epic mountain vistas to tranquil meadows and soothing hot springs, the trails within this forest are sure to leave riders with unforgettable memories of their journey through the stunning wilderness of Western Montana.