Ottawa National Forest, located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and spanning over 1 million acres, is a hidden gem for horseback riding enthusiasts. With its vast wilderness, diverse landscapes, and well-maintained trails, it offers equestrians an unmatched experience of exploring the great outdoors on horseback. Here are some of the best horse trails at Ottawa National Forest that every rider should explore.
1. North Country National Scenic Trail:
With its eastern terminus at the Ottawa National Forest, the North Country National Scenic Trail is a must-ride for equestrians. Stretching over 4,600 miles through seven states, it provides an incredible opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the forest. The trail winds through rolling hills, dense forests, and scenic overlooks, creating a truly unforgettable riding experience.
2. Presque Isle River Trail:
For riders seeking stunning water views, the Presque Isle River Trail is the perfect choice. This 12-mile loop trail follows the meandering Presque Isle River, passing multiple waterfalls along the way. The trail is relatively flat, making it suitable for riders of all skill levels. As you ride through the forest, the soothing sound of rushing water will accompany you, adding to the tranquility of the journey.
3. Black River Harbor Recreation Area:
Located on the southern shore of Lake Superior, the Black River Harbor Recreation Area offers an array of horse trails that showcase the area's natural wonders. The 16-mile Black River National Forest Scenic Byway, for example, provides breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls and deep gorges. Riders can also explore the 2-mile Rainbow Falls Forest Trail, which leads to a gorgeous 45-foot waterfall. The area offers ample parking and designated horse trailer areas, making it easily accessible for equestrians.
4. Sylvania Wilderness Area:
Situated in the heart of the Ottawa National Forest, the Sylvania Wilderness Area is a haven for nature lovers and horseback riders alike. This primitive area boasts over 34,000 acres of unspoiled forests, crystal-clear lakes, and pristine wetlands. Though there are no designated horse trails within Sylvania Wilderness, riders can traverse the numerous logging roads and paths that crisscross the area, creating their own adventure.
5. Trap Hills Trail System:
The Trap Hills Trail System is a network of interconnected trails that offers varying levels of difficulty, catering to riders of all abilities. Covering approximately 45 miles, these trails wind through hardwood forests, across rolling hills, and offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Riders can choose from a range of loops, each offering a unique experience in this beautiful area of Ottawa National Forest.
When exploring Ottawa National Forest's horse trails, it's important to remember some guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Always bring plenty of water for both yourself and your horse, and pack essential items such as maps, a first aid kit, insect repellent, and a trail guidebook. Respect the environment by staying on designated trails and following regulations regarding camping and campfire use.
Ottawa National Forest provides riders with an unforgettable opportunity to connect with nature and experience the beauty of Michigan's Upper Peninsula on horseback. Whether you choose to explore the North Country National Scenic Trail or venture into the Sylvania Wilderness Area, these trails will undoubtedly leave you with cherished memories of your equestrian adventures. So saddle up, embrace the open trail, and prepare to be captivated by Ottawa National Forest's hidden treasures.