Planning a horsey trail vacation - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 36 Old 08-12-2018, 09:52 PM Thread Starter
Yearling
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Montana
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Planning a horsey trail vacation

Hey all, I am going to be taking some time next year to go for an extended trail ride and I was wondering if some of you could perhaps point me in the right direction.

I have never done this with a horse before but I AM very well versed at backpacking and hiking solo in the great wide wilderness. I never did learn to use a GPS (not to say I couldn't by the time I leave) but I am a pro at wayfinding using a good ol' fashioned compass and topographical map. I would hopefully be going with someone but on the off chance I can't find a partner I am prepared to go alone. Right now I am still planning the very basics.

We put in our vacations in November so I'll know what time I have off by the end of the year, and that will be a large factor. If I can get a decent week in the summer I will probably try to do Yellowstone or Glacier National Park but if I have to go in the fall or spring I will most likely be headed south to Zion. Also, the northern parks have an abundance of predators so I probably won't do those alone (never ridden in bear country before).

I live in central Montana now and I was hoping to keep the drive to one day if possible, two days maximum. If possible I'd like to stay in an area where I can park the trailer and do several days' worth of day rides from that base. Camping for me is a non-issue - I can sleep in the truck or in a tent or in a hotel as the situation requires, so no worries there. Do any of you know of any areas besides the ones I mentioned that fit my criteria? I'm open to any sort of terrain, though I would like to avoid Nevada if at all possible simply because I used to live there and I'd like to go somewhere I haven't been before.

Also, as I said before, I have never ridden in bear country - what precautions do I need to take? I have been scouring the NPS website in case I go to Yellowstone or Glacier and they have some great tips but everything is geared more toward biking and backpacking than horseback riding. Are there any horse-specific things that you guys do? Should I train Dreams to do something or not do something in preparation? Will a bear (not counting a sow with cubs, in which case you're usually screwed) tend to avoid a horse and rider, or investigate? How about wolves? I'd really hate to run into a pack of those at Yellowstone. Anyone have any ideas about that?

The main reason I'd like to have a "base camp" is because I'm hesitant about having to pack in food for the horses. Depending on the time of year there will be plenty of grass, but I've never gone horse camping so I don't know how it's all done. Dreams is hobble broke, and Thunder is too on the off chance I'd need him to pack stuff, and I'd also be comfortable with packing a portable hot fence or high lining them or even picketing - I am confident they'd be there the next day in any of those cases. Is that sort of packing the type of thing that is better done with someone who has experience or would a reasonably intelligent, rational person be able to figure it all out? I would do my research, if it came to that.

I appreciate any insight, tips, etc that any of you can give me. I'd also be willing to get a group put together if any of you are into that.

Thanks!

-- Kai
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post #2 of 36 Old 08-13-2018, 12:22 AM
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please do not go alone.
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post #3 of 36 Old 08-13-2018, 01:13 AM
Green Broke
 
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Here is a link to a thread about horse camping in Yellowstone from 2011.
https://www.horseforum.com/trail-rid...owstone-78486/

I wouldn't be brave enough to ride in Yellowstone unless it was with a guided trail string, someone who did it all the time. We've hiked outside the gates but still inside the park and saw lots of bear sign and where a big bear had been lying down not long before. It was nerve-wracking and we made a lot of noise. I wouldn't want to do it again without a gun, but it is illegal to carry them in the park.

Inside the gates, there are so many elk and bison that we had to detour several times off our hiking paths to be safe.
I think I'd feel safer riding in Glacier, because the animals are less used to people and more likely to stay out of your way.
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post #4 of 36 Old 08-13-2018, 03:18 AM Thread Starter
Yearling
 
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@tinyliny If I go on a solo ride it would be south, to Zion or somewhere around there. That's my neck of the woods, so to speak - I grew up in that country. There isn't much in the way of predators down there except for the big kitties and the VERY rare black bear but the chances of coming across one of those is exceedingly minute. I'm not worried at all about solo trail riding down there - I did it for 10 years growing up. Yellowstone/Glacier would be a different matter entirely Ö. like I said, I wouldn't do those alone. Waaaaay more bears, packs of wolves, etc to deal with, and I wouldn't care to come across a bison on my own either.

@gottatrot I also think I'd prefer Glacier, mostly because I've never been there before, but the "no hay allowed" stipulation kinda worries me. Like, no hay period, not even certified weed free hay. I'd have to feed pellets, which have to be soaked, and Ö. sigh. Just seems like a giant PITA. Though I do like the fact that I can get a longer backcountry permit (up to 6 days). Ergh, I hate the fact that people own like all of Montana Ö in Nevada I could just point and go, and not see a fence for days. I miss large swathes of BLM land. : /

A less appealing but mostly predator-free option is the Maah Daah Hey trail, which I have always wanted to see in its entirety. This is something I'd feel comfortable doing solo, but I'd need to either cache or pack feed unless there's a ton of rain all year. Also there are only 2 horse-friendly campsites that I can see, placed a bit too far apart for me to comfortably say I could traverse in a day, so I probably wouldn't be able to do the entire trail. Le sigh. I'm glad I'm starting this early, at this rate it will take 6 months for me to plan anything at all.

-- Kai
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post #5 of 36 Old 08-13-2018, 06:27 PM
Green Broke
 
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If you want to experience the area around Glacier with less regulation, there are a ton of nice trail areas in northwest Montana around Kalispell/Columbia Falls and north up into Eureka. Use certified weed-free hay, or check that grazing is allowed, and you should be ok. For a wonderful Montana experience, hire an outfitter and take a week and go into the Bob Marshall. If the schedule works for you and you own an Appaloosa (I think you do?) consider the Chief Joseph trail ride. They cover about 100 miles in a 5-day stretch over a part of the trail used by the Nez Perce trying to escape the Cavalry.
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post #6 of 36 Old 08-13-2018, 07:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverMaple View Post
If you want to experience the area around Glacier with less regulation, there are a ton of nice trail areas in northwest Montana around Kalispell/Columbia Falls and north up into Eureka. Use certified weed-free hay, or check that grazing is allowed, and you should be ok. For a wonderful Montana experience, hire an outfitter and take a week and go into the Bob Marshall. If the schedule works for you and you own an Appaloosa (I think you do?) consider the Chief Joseph trail ride. They cover about 100 miles in a 5-day stretch over a part of the trail used by the Nez Perce trying to escape the Cavalry.




@SilverMaple re: Chief Joseph Trail Ride . . .



I JUST finished this year's ride!!
it was my first time EVER doing any kind of horse camping/ longer distance riding. it was quite the experience. I rented a mount. I can tell you more about it if you like, but if a person is wanting solitude in the wilderness, this is NOT the ride for that.
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post #7 of 36 Old 08-13-2018, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
[/B]


@SilverMaple re: Chief Joseph Trail Ride . . .



I JUST finished this year's ride!!
it was my first time EVER doing any kind of horse camping/ longer distance riding. it was quite the experience. I rented a mount. I can tell you more about it if you like, but if a person is wanting solitude in the wilderness, this is NOT the ride for that.
Tiny have you written up your photo essay about your ride yet????
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post #8 of 36 Old 08-13-2018, 08:55 PM
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shall it? I have a great write up, but only some mediocre photos
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post #9 of 36 Old 08-13-2018, 09:51 PM
Green Broke
 
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No, it's not a solitude ride, but it covers some fantastically gorgeous territory, and the trail and campsites are mapped out, so you don't have to worry about that. But yeah, if it's solitude in the wilderness you're after, that isn't probably the best choice
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post #10 of 36 Old 08-13-2018, 10:53 PM
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Can I go? I make a great camp bit$h.
The Bob Marshall is a great place to go. Much better than Glacier. But there are grizzlies in both. I prefer the Frank Church because there are only black bears. If you want to come this way (north Idaho) I know some great places.
Just about anywhere you go horse camping now bear proof paniers are required.
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