The Olympic National Forest is a stunning paradise for horse enthusiasts looking to explore the great outdoors. With its diverse landscapes, rich ecosystems, and breathtaking views, this national forest offers a plethora of exceptional horse trails. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced rider, there are trails to suit every skill level. Let's take a look at some of the top horse trails in the Olympic National Forest.
1. Lena Lake Trail: Located in the eastern portion of the forest, the Lena Lake Trail is known for its scenic beauty. This moderate 6.5-mile trail takes you through old-growth forests filled with moss-covered trees, lush vegetation, and trickling streams. As you ride, keep an eye out for wildlife, including deer, elk, and various bird species. The highlight of the journey is the stunning Lena Lake, where you can take a break and enjoy a peaceful picnic before returning.
2. Elwha Valley Trail: Situated in the heart of the Olympic National Forest, the Elwha Valley Trail offers riders an opportunity to experience the beauty of the wild and rugged Elwha River Valley. This 18-mile trail starts at Whiskey Bend Trailhead and winds along the Elwha River, showcasing beautiful waterfalls, mountain views, and old-growth forests. Riders can camp overnight at the Elkhorn Ranger Station, truly immersing themselves in the tranquility of the forest.
3. Dungeness River Trail: Located in the northern part of the forest, the Dungeness River Trail is a popular choice for horseback riding. This moderate 6.5-mile trail provides an adventure through dense forests, along the sparkling Dungeness River, and past scenic viewpoints. The trail is known for its vibrant wildflower displays during the spring and summer months, making it a picturesque ride. Be sure to bring your camera!
4. Hamma Hamma River Trail: For a more challenging ride, the Hamma Hamma River Trail is the perfect choice. This 15-mile trail takes riders through rugged terrain, dense forests, and alongside the beautiful Hamma Hamma River. Prepare to encounter various obstacles such as fallen trees and rocky sections, but the breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls and the Olympic Mountains make it all worth it.
5. Mount Ellinor Trail: If you're up for a ride with stunning panoramic views, the Mount Ellinor Trail is a must-visit destination. This advanced trail, located in the southeast corner of the forest, offers riders an unforgettable experience. Ascend the mountain through a series of switchbacks, witnessing grand vistas of the surrounding peaks and lakes. At the summit, take a moment to revel in the awe-inspiring scenery before making your descent.
Remember, before embarking on any horse trail in the Olympic National Forest, it's essential to review regulations and obtain the necessary permits. Always prioritize safety by carrying proper riding gear, including helmets, and maintaining control of your horse at all times. Additionally, respect the environment by practicing Leave No Trace principles, staying on designated trails, and properly disposing of waste.
The Olympic National Forest is a treasure trove of horse riding opportunities. Whether you crave a serene ride amidst old-growth forests or seek an adrenaline-pumping adventure, these top horse trails are sure to satisfy your equestrian appetite. So saddle up, breathe in the fresh forest air, and embark on a memorable riding experience in the captivating Olympic National Forest.