Stokes State Forest in northwestern New Jersey is a hidden gem for horseback riders looking to explore scenic trails and get close to nature. With over 16,000 acres of pristine wilderness, this forest offers some of the most breathtaking horseback riding experiences in the region. Whether you're a seasoned rider or a beginner, Stokes State Forest has trails that will suit all levels of equestrian enthusiasts. Here are some of the best horse trails within this expansive natural haven.
1. Stony Lake Trail: This 7.5-mile loop trail is a favorite among horseback riders. It winds through lush forests, passes by serene streams, and offers breathtaking views of the adjacent Kittatinny Mountains. The trail is well-maintained and relatively flat, making it suitable for riders of all skill levels. You can also take a break near Stony Lake and enjoy a peaceful picnic amidst the stunning surroundings.
2. Sunrise Mountain Trail: For riders seeking a more challenging experience, the Sunrise Mountain Trail is a must-try. This 8-mile trail leads up to Sunrise Mountain, considered one of the most scenic spots in the area. As you ascend, be prepared for some steep sections, but the effort is well worth it. From the top, you'll be rewarded with panoramic views stretching across three states - New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. The trail offers a mix of wooded areas and open fields, providing variety and excitement throughout the ride.
3. Tillman Ravine Trail: This 3-mile trail is perfect for horseback riders who enjoy a leisurely ride through picturesque woodlands. As you meander along this trail, you'll come across the stunning Tillman Ravine, a must-see attraction of Stokes State Forest. The ravine features cascading waterfalls and a lush green canopy, creating a peaceful and rejuvenating atmosphere. The trail offers multiple creek crossings, providing an added element of adventure for riders and their equine partners.
4. Tinsley Trail: If you're looking for a longer trek, the Tinsley Trail, with its 13-mile loop, is an excellent choice. This trail takes riders through diverse landscapes, including dense forests, pristine meadows, and tranquil water bodies. Along the way, you might spot an array of wildlife, including deer, foxes, and various bird species. The Tinsley Trail offers a true escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing riders to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.
Before venturing out on the horse trails at Stokes State Forest, a few essential tips should be kept in mind. It's crucial to pack adequate water, snacks, and a first aid kit for both yourself and your horse. Wearing appropriate riding gear, including a helmet, is always recommended. Lastly, it's essential to ride responsibly and follow any posted regulations or guidelines to preserve the forest and ensure everyone's safety.
Stokes State Forest is a paradise for equestrians seeking breathtaking scenery, diverse terrain, and a chance to connect with nature. Whether you're a local looking to explore closer to home or an out-of-town visitor in search of new adventures, this forest offers something special for every horseback rider. So saddle up, hit the trails, and let Stokes State Forest provide you and your trusty steed with an unforgettable riding experience.