Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Ottawa National Forest is a vast and beautiful area that offers numerous outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. One of the most popular activities in the forest is horseback riding, with its extensive network of trails that meander through breathtaking landscapes. Whether you are an experienced equestrian or a novice rider, Ottawa National Forest has something for everyone. In this article, we will explore the top horse trails in Ottawa National Forest that promise stunning vistas and unforgettable riding experiences.
1. South Boundary Trail
Spanning approximately 35 miles, the South Boundary Trail is a favorite among horseback riders. This trail takes riders along the southern border of the forest, offering scenic views of dense forests, winding rivers, and occasional wildlife sightings. The well-maintained trail passes through varied terrain, ranging from flat portions to some steeper sections. Riders can choose shorter sections or embark on the whole trail for a multi-day adventure.
2. Black River Harbor Trail
For those seeking a more relaxed ride, the Black River Harbor Trail is an ideal option. Stretching for approximately five miles, this trail is perfect for riders of all skill levels, including beginners and younger riders. The trail follows the pristine Black River, providing riders with stunning views of cascading waterfalls, lush vegetation, and towering cliffs. Riders can also access the nearby Lake Superior shoreline, making it an enjoyable and picturesque experience.
3. Iron County Heritage Trail
The Iron County Heritage Trail is a great choice for riders looking to explore historical sites while enjoying a pleasant ride. This trail incorporates two loops, offering flexibility and diversity in terms of terrain and length. Riders can witness remnants of old logging camps, charcoal kilns, and historic cabin sites. The peaceful surroundings and the opportunity to learn about the region's history make the Iron County Heritage Trail an enriching experience.
4. Clark Lake Loop Trail
Located near Watersmeet, Michigan, the Clark Lake Loop Trail is a picturesque trail that circles the tranquil Clark Lake. Covering around 11 miles, this well-maintained trail takes riders through majestic hardwood forests and past scenic wetlands. Riders can even catch glimpses of wildlife, such as whitetail deer and waterfowl. The trail also provides access to the Ottawa Loop Equestrian Campground, making it an excellent option for those looking to camp and explore the forest further.
5. Perch Lake Interpretive Trail
Perfect for a leisurely ride or a family outing, the Perch Lake Interpretive Trail offers a short and easy ride that is both scenic and educational. This one-mile loop is packed with interesting informational signs, guiding riders through various ecological features and forest management practices. The trail winds through tall pines and showcases the area's diverse flora and fauna, including pitcher plants and numerous bird species. Riders can enjoy a peaceful and educational experience on this trail.
Before embarking on any horseback riding adventure in Ottawa National Forest, it is important to familiarize yourself with the forest's regulations, such as registration requirements and trail access restrictions. Additionally, ensure that you have the necessary gear, including a well-fitting helmet and appropriate footwear.
Whether you are a seasoned rider or a beginner, Ottawa National Forest offers a range of horse trails that cater to all levels of experience. From the rugged South Boundary Trail to the serene Clark Lake Loop Trail, each trail in the forest promises exceptional scenery and a unique equestrian experience. So, saddle up and explore the beauty of Ottawa National Forest on horseback for an unforgettable outdoor adventure.