The Umatilla National Forest, located in northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its diverse landscapes, stunning scenery, and abundant wildlife, it offers numerous recreational activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and horseback riding. In this article, we will explore the top horse trails in Umatilla National Forest, where riders can enter into a world of adventure and connect with nature in a unique way.
1. Vinegar Hill-Indian Rock Scenic Area:
Located in the southern part of the forest, the Vinegar Hill-Indian Rock Scenic Area offers some of the most scenic horseback riding trails in the region. One of the most popular trails is the Vinegar Hill Loop Trail, which takes riders on a 14-mile journey through picturesque meadows, dense forests, and alongside beautiful mountain lakes. The trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the opportunity to spot wildlife like deer, elk, and various bird species.
2. Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Area:
For those seeking a more remote and challenging horseback riding experience, the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Area provides the perfect setting. The area features several trails that wind through rugged mountains, deep canyons, and vast meadows. The Wenaha River Trail is a favorite among horseback riders, offering stunning vistas of the river, lush vegetation, and the opportunity to spot bighorn sheep and other wildlife. The undulating terrain and changing landscapes offer a thrilling adventure for experienced riders.
3. Mt. Misery Trail:
Contrary to its name, the Mt. Misery Trail offers an exhilarating and satisfying horseback riding experience. This trail, located in the northern part of Umatilla National Forest, takes riders on a 20-mile loop through dense forests, across peaceful streams, and along the ridges of the Blue Mountains. The trail is known for its scenic overlooks that provide panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Be prepared for some steep and rocky sections, making it suitable for more experienced riders and well-trained horses.
4. North Fork Umatilla Wilderness Area:
For riders seeking a quieter and less-traveled trail, the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness Area offers a peaceful escape into nature. The North Fork Umatilla River Trail is a popular choice, meandering alongside the crystal-clear river and through dense forests. This trail is well-suited for riders of all skill levels and offers numerous areas for staging camps, picnicking, or even enjoying a refreshing dip in the river. Wildlife sightings are also common, including elk, deer, and possibly even black bears.
5. East End Trail System:
Situated in the eastern portion of Umatilla National Forest, the East End Trail System offers a network of interconnected trails that cater to riders of all levels. With over 50 miles of trails, riders can choose their own adventure, exploring serene meadows, rolling hills, and fascinating rock formations. The East End Loop Trail is a popular choice, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding canyons and distant mountains. This trail system also connects to the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Area, offering extended riding opportunities.
Before embarking on any horseback riding adventure, it is essential to check the local regulations, including any necessary permits, camping restrictions, and trail closures. Additionally, riders should be prepared with appropriate gear, including a well-fitting helmet, sturdy footwear, and navigation tools. Remember to leave no trace, respecting nature's beauty by packing out all trash and minimizing any impact on the ecosystem.
Exploring the horse trails in Umatilla National Forest promises an unforgettable experience. Whether riding through dense forests, crossing peaceful streams, or enjoying breathtaking vistas, these trails offer riders a unique chance to connect with nature while enjoying the beauty of northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. So saddle up, gather your equine companion, and embark on an adventure through the remarkable Umatilla National Forest.