The San Bernardino National Forest is a sprawling wilderness area located in Southern California, encompassed by majestic mountains, dense forests, and pristine wildlife. It is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a plethora of trails for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders alike. If you are a passionate equestrian looking to explore the beauty of this national forest, here are the top horse trails in San Bernardino National Forest that you should not miss.
1. Pacific Crest Trail – Running approximately 2,650 miles from the California-Mexico border to the Washington-Canada border, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) traverses the San Bernardino National Forest for about 17 miles. While the entire trail is an epic journey, the PCT section within the national forest treats riders to breathtaking vistas and diverse landscapes. The trail can be steep and challenging at times, but the rewards of riding through alpine meadows, ancient forests, and sprawling valleys make it all worthwhile.
2. South Fork Trail – This beautiful trail begins near the South Fork Campground and extends for approximately 11 miles alongside the scenic South Fork Santa Ana River. The trail offers stunning views of towering peaks, meadows filled with wildflowers, and crystal-clear streams gushing through the forest. Riders can also enjoy access to fishing spots and swimming holes along the way, making it an ideal trail for a day-long adventure.
3. Aspen Grove Trail – Nestled within the stunning San Gorgonio Wilderness, the Aspen Grove Trail offers a picturesque and peaceful ride through towering groves of aspen trees. This 8-mile out-and-back trail begins near the South Fork Campground and gradually climbs through alpine meadows, revealing panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, meadows, and lakes. The vibrant colors of the aspen leaves during the autumn season make this trail an absolute must-visit.
4. Coon Creek Trail – Located in the eastern portion of the San Bernardino National Forest, the Coon Creek Trail is a moderately difficult trail spanning about 6.5 miles. This trail winds through dense forests, crosses small creeks, and leads riders to the Coon Creek Cabin, a charming historic structure nestled amidst the wilderness. This trail provides ample opportunities for wildlife spotting, as deer, coyotes, birds, and even the occasional bear can often be seen along the way.
5. Heart Bar Equestrian Loop – Perfect for riders of all skill levels, the Heart Bar Equestrian Loop offers a tranquil and scenic ride through the heart of the San Bernardino National Forest. This 14-mile loop trail begins and ends at the Heart Bar Campground, taking riders through peaceful meadows, old-growth forests, and alongside picturesque mountain streams. The serene beauty of this trail is truly rejuvenating and provides ample spots for picnicking and relaxation.
Before embarking on your horseback riding adventure in San Bernardino National Forest, remember to always check trail conditions, obtain any required permits, and follow leave-no-trace principles to help preserve this beautiful wilderness for future generations. Additionally, if you are new to riding in the area, it is advisable to go with an experienced rider or join a guided trail group for added safety and enjoyment. So saddle up, explore these top horse trails, and create unforgettable equestrian memories in the San Bernardino National Forest.