Lolo National Forest, located in Western Montana, stretches over two million acres of breathtaking landscapes, including mountains, valleys, and dense forests. It is a true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, especially those who love horseback riding. With its pristine beauty and diverse terrain, Lolo National Forest offers several incredible horse trails that promise unforgettable experiences. So saddle up and let's explore some of the top horse trails in this mesmerizing forest.
1. Lolo Motorway Trail:
The Lolo Motorway Trail is an iconic route that follows the historic Lolo Motorway built in the early 1900s. This trail is perfect for experienced riders seeking an adventure. It covers approximately 100 miles, allowing you to immerse yourself in the forest's beauty while traversing rugged terrain and crossing rivers. The trail offers stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys, including the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Keep an eye out for wildlife, such as elk, deer, and even black bears. It's essential to plan ahead and make necessary arrangements for overnight stays and pack plenty of supplies for this multi-day journey.
2. Mill Creek Loop Trail:
The Mill Creek Loop Trail is a scenic 18-mile loop that takes riders through dense forests, open meadows, and along the peaceful Mill Creek. This trail is well-suited for riders of all skill levels and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding wilderness. As you ride through the forest, you might come across various bird species, such as woodpeckers and songbirds. The trail is well-marked and maintained, making it an enjoyable experience for both horse and rider. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the picturesque landscapes along the way.
3. Bass Creek Trail:
For a shorter yet still rewarding ride, head to the Bass Creek Trail. This 19.5-mile trail follows the beautiful Bass Creek, offering picturesque views of the creek's crystal-clear waters. The trail takes riders through lush meadows, towering trees, and provides glimpses of the majestic Bitterroot Mountains. The trail is well-maintained and offers several opportunities to stop and stretch your legs. If you're lucky, you might spot some beavers busy at work along the creek. Remember to pack insect repellent, as mosquitoes can be quite active in this area during the summer months.
4. Threemile Trail:
Located just a short drive from Missoula, the Threemile Trail is a popular choice for riders looking for a day trip. This 10-mile trail follows along Threemile Creek, offering stunning views of the surrounding forest and grassy meadows. The relatively flat terrain makes it accessible for riders of all levels. The Threemile Trail is also excellent for birdwatching, with the chance to spot ospreys, eagles, and a variety of other birds. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a relaxing break along the creek before making your way back.
5. Welcome Creek Wilderness Loop:
For a more secluded and backcountry experience, the Welcome Creek Wilderness Loop is an excellent choice. This 15-mile loop takes riders through the rugged Welcome Creek Wilderness, offering a true wilderness adventure. The trail winds through dense forests of pine, spruce, and fir trees, with occasional meadows breaking up the scenery. Keep an eye out for signs of wildlife, including moose, elk, and mountain goats. This trail is best for experienced riders, as it involves some challenging terrain and elevations. However, the stunning beauty and solitude of the wilderness make it well worth the effort.
Before embarking on any of these trails, it is essential to check local regulations, obtain the necessary permits, and ensure your horse is adequately equipped for the journey. It's also crucial to pack essentials such as water, food, a first aid kit, and navigation tools. Respect the environment and leave no trace during your ride, preserving the pristine nature of Lolo National Forest for future generations.
Lolo National Forest is an equestrian's wonderland, offering a variety of trails for horseback riding enthusiasts. Whether you seek an adrenaline-pumping multi-day adventure or a peaceful day ride, these top horse trails provide incredible experiences in one of Montana's most stunning natural playgrounds. Get ready to saddle up and create memories that will last a lifetime.