Nestled in the scenic mountains of western North Carolina lies the Nantahala National Forest, a breathtaking landscape that attracts outdoor enthusiasts from far and wide. While it offers numerous recreational activities, including hiking, fishing, and camping, one of the most popular pursuits is horseback riding. The forest spans over 531,000 acres, making it an equestrian paradise with an extensive network of trails. Here, we will explore some of the best horse trails at Nantahala National Forest.
1. Tsali Recreation Area Horse Trails:
Arguably the crown jewel of Nantahala National Forest for horseback riding, Tsali Recreation Area offers four well-maintained loop trails. This area boasts stunning views of Fontana Lake and the Great Smoky Mountains. The trails vary in length and difficulty, accommodating riders of all skill levels. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, Tsali Recreation Area has an unforgettable ride for everyone.
2. Chunky Gal Stables Trails:
Located near the town of Hayesville, Chunky Gal Stables offers guided trail rides through the beautiful Nantahala backcountry. With a variety of trails to choose from, riders can explore the forest's endless splendor while enjoying the company of well-trained horses. Chunky Gal Stables is perfect for those looking for a memorable riding experience without the hassle of bringing their own horses.
3. Fires Creek Wildlife Management Area:
For riders seeking a more remote and secluded experience, Fires Creek Wildlife Management Area is the place to be. This hidden gem features miles of pristine trails through lush forests and along rushing streams. This area offers a true wilderness experience, where riders will feel immersed in the tranquility of nature.
4. Standing Indian Basin Trails:
Located within the forest's boundaries, Standing Indian Basin is a hiker's paradise, but it's equally inviting for equestrians. With miles of interconnected trails, riders can explore this wilderness area and enjoy the gorgeous mountain vistas. The variety of trails ensures that riders of all levels will find a suitable path to follow.
5. Nantahala River Gorge Trails:
For those looking to combine horseback riding with scenic river views, the Nantahala River Gorge trails are a perfect choice. These trails wind through the forest along the Nantahala River, offering riders a unique opportunity to witness the river's powerful rapids and peaceful stretches. The trails' proximity to the river makes for a refreshing and awe-inspiring experience.
When exploring these outstanding horse trails at Nantahala National Forest, it is essential to keep in mind a few key tips. Always practice Leave No Trace principles, respecting the environment and wildlife. Additionally, ensure your horse is well-trained and adequately outfitted with appropriate gear. Be prepared with plenty of water and snacks as well as a first aid kit and a map of the trails.
As you embark on your adventures in Nantahala National Forest, whether as a seasoned rider or a novice, remember to take the time to truly immerse yourself in the beauty of the trails. The forest's diverse landscapes, breathtaking views, and peaceful atmosphere provide an unparalleled equestrian experience. So saddle up and explore the best horse trails at Nantahala National Forest – an unforgettable journey awaits.