Located in southeastern Oregon, Malheur National Forest boasts a diverse and picturesque landscape, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. With its sprawling mountain ranges, sparkling lakes, lush meadows, and dense forests, the forest provides endless opportunities for adventure on horseback. Whether you're a seasoned equestrian or a beginner horse rider, the trails in Malheur National Forest offer something for everyone. Here are some of the top horse trails to explore in this stunning wilderness:
1. Strawberry Mountain Wilderness Trails:
Strawberry Mountain Wilderness offers an array of scenic horse trails. The South Fork Malheur River Trail is a popular choice, taking riders past meadows dotted with wildflowers and through groves of pine and fir trees. The trail offers breathtaking panoramic views of the rugged Strawberry Mountains. The Slide Basin Trail and Canyon Creek Trail, both starting from the Strawberry Campground, are also worth exploring.
2. Monument Rock Wilderness Trails:
The Albee Creek Trail is a highlight in this wilderness area, presenting riders with picturesque views of the deep Albee Creek Canyon. This trail winds through open meadows and mixed forests, showcasing the beauty and tranquility of the area. For a more challenging ride, the Mount Misery Trail offers steep elevation changes and stunning vistas of the surrounding landscape.
3. Vinegar Hill-Indian Creek Trail:
This trail offers horse enthusiasts the opportunity to experience both the natural beauty of the forest and the rich history of the area. Beginning at the Vinegar Hill Historic District, riders pass through old mining sites, take in sweeping views of the John Day Valley, and traverse a majestic ponderosa pine forest. This trail is perfect for a day trip or an overnight camping adventure.
4. North Fork John Day River Trail:
Following the North Fork John Day River, this trail offers a delightful mix of both open and forested sections. Riders can immerse themselves in the tranquility of the river as they traverse through canyons, valleys, and meadows. The trail offers opportunities for wildlife spotting, including deer, elk, and a variety of bird species.
5. Blue Mountain Summit Trail:
Located near Austin Junction, this picturesque trail is a favorite among riders seeking breathtaking views of the Blue Mountains and surrounding countryside. The trail climbs gradually, allowing riders to fully appreciate the beauty of the landscape. A variety of wildflowers, as well as encounters with deer and other wildlife, add to the charm of this trail.
Keep in mind that it is important to come prepared when venturing into Malheur National Forest. Pack plenty of water, food, and sunscreen, and make sure to bring a map or GPS device. Keep an eye on weather conditions and be respectful of the wildlife and the ecosystem.
Before embarking on your horseback adventure, remember to check with the local Forest Service office for trail conditions and any necessary permits. Additionally, it is important to adhere to Leave No Trace principles to help preserve the integrity of this beautiful wilderness.
Whether you are seeking a leisurely ride through meadows or a challenging trek through rugged terrain, the trails in Malheur National Forest offer a horseback riding experience like no other. Come and discover the natural wonders and magnificent beauty that await you in this scenic corner of Oregon. Saddle up and let the trails of Malheur National Forest transport you into the heart of nature.