Monongahela National Forest is a stunning gem nestled in the heart of West Virginia. Famous for its rugged mountains, lush forests, and diverse wildlife, this national forest offers a plethora of recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Amongst the many activities available, horseback riding is an unforgettable way to explore the forest's vast wilderness. In this article, we will delve into the top horse trails in Monongahela National Forest, allowing equestrians to immerse themselves in the beauty and tranquility of this remarkable destination.
1. Tea Creek Trail:
Located in the scenic Williams River Valley, Tea Creek Trail is a popular choice for both experienced riders and beginners. The trail's gentle ascent through dense hemlock forests leads to breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Along the way, riders can admire the sparkling Tea Creek, trot over bridges, and observe an assortment of wildflowers and wildlife. Offering both a day trip option and overnight camping possibilities, Tea Creek Trail is an ideal choice for a horseback adventure.
2. Dolly Sods Wilderness:
Dolly Sods Wilderness is an expansive area with over 17,000 acres of untamed beauty. This stunning landscape features open meadows, wind-swept plains, and unique rock formations. The Bear Rocks Preserve, within the wilderness area, offers an exhilarating ride with exceptional views. While the terrain can be rugged at times, the rewards are plentiful, including stunning vistas, wild blueberry patches, and the possibility of spotting black bears or deer.
3. Otter Creek Wilderness Loop:
For those seeking a longer horseback riding adventure, the Otter Creek Wilderness Loop is an excellent choice. This 20-mile loop traverses through dense forests, follows the scenic Otter Creek, and offers opportunities for horse camping along the way. Riders will encounter diverse terrain, creek crossings, and stunning overlooks. The loop trail can be completed over a few days, allowing equestrians to truly immerse themselves in the beauty and solitude of the wilderness.
4. North Fork Mountain Trail:
Stretching over 20 miles along the spine of North Fork Mountain, this trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding wilderness. Equestrians will be treated to panoramic vistas of the Allegheny Mountains, deep valleys, and the picturesque Potomac River. While the trail is known for its challenging terrain, the enchanting beauty of the surroundings makes it worth the effort. Riders can choose from shorter sections or embark on a multi-day trip, enjoying the beauty of the forest at their own pace.
5. Red Run Trail:
Perfect for a leisurely ride or a family adventure, Red Run Trail is a rewarding option for horseback riding in Monongahela National Forest. The trail follows along Red Run Creek, offering riders the chance to splash through shallow water crossings and enjoy the peaceful sounds of gently flowing water. The trail is relatively easy, making it suitable for riders of all skill levels, and provides ample opportunities to spot wildlife along the way.
Before heading out on any of the horse trails in Monongahela National Forest, it is essential to ensure you have the necessary equipment and permits. Additionally, be sure to follow all trail etiquette guidelines, including packing out any waste and respecting other trail users.
Horseback riding in Monongahela National Forest is a unique opportunity to experience the rich natural heritage of West Virginia. Whether you choose to explore the lush valleys, rugged mountaintops, or sparkling creeks, the horse trails in this national forest offer an adventure that will leave equestrians with lifelong memories of this breathtaking wilderness.