Top Horse Trails in Pawnee National Grassland: Riding Through Scenic Beauty
Nestled in the northeastern corner of Colorado lies the expansive Pawnee National Grassland, a hidden gem for horseback riders seeking breathtaking views and tranquil beauty. With over 190,000 acres of diverse landscape, including rolling hills, prairie grasslands, and picturesque canyons, this paradise offers unparalleled opportunities for equestrian enthusiasts. Whether you prefer a leisurely ride or a challenging trail, here are some of the top horse trails in Pawnee National Grassland that promise an unforgettable experience.
1. Pawnee Buttes Trail:
Prepare to be awe-struck by the iconic Pawnee Buttes on this trail located in the western part of the grassland. The 5-mile loop takes riders through wide-open meadows and sandy ridges, offering stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Keep an eye out for abundant wildlife, including mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and a myriad of bird species, making this trail a photographer's dream.
2. Bird Watching Trail:
For those seeking a more leisurely ride, the Bird Watching Trail provides an excellent opportunity to observe avian species that call Pawnee National Grassland home. This 2-mile loop meanders through lush grasslands and wetlands, attracting an array of bird species, including hawks, eagles, sandhill cranes, and the occasional glimpse of the endangered Mountain Plover. Don't forget your binoculars and camera!
3. Crow Valley Campground Trail:
Situated near the southeastern boundary of the grassland, the Crow Valley Campground Trail is suitable for all skill levels. This 7-mile round trip treats riders to rolling hills, creeks, and wildflowers in the spring. A great choice for a relaxed day ride or an overnight camping experience, riders can explore the surrounding wilderness at their leisure before returning to the campground to relax under the starry night sky.
4. West Pawnee Butte Trail:
Seeking a more challenging adventure? The 12-mile West Pawnee Butte Trail offers riders an adrenaline-pumping ride through rugged canyons and steep gullies. Navigating through the uneven terrain requires a seasoned rider, but the spectacular views of the towering buttes and expansive grasslands make it truly worth the effort. Remember to pack water and snacks for this longer ride.
5. Pawnee Pioneer Trail:
Embark on a journey through history on the Pawnee Pioneer Trail, a 15-mile round trip that traces the footsteps of early pioneers who settled in the area. This trail takes riders through rolling grasslands, along the banks of the Pawnee Creek, and past remnants of old homesteads. Be sure to take breaks and explore these historical sites, allowing yourself to be transported back in time.
Remember, before setting out on any of these trails, make sure to check in at the Pawnee National Grassland Visitor Center for the latest trail conditions and any temporary closures. Being mindful of the environment and following leave-no-trace principles are vital to preserving the natural beauty of the grassland for future generations.
Whether you're a seasoned rider or an enthusiastic beginner, Pawnee National Grassland has something to offer every equestrian adventurer. So saddle up, explore the untamed beauty, and create memories that will last a lifetime along these top horse trails.