BendBulletin.com - Full Article
Equestrians, long-time stewards of local trails, vie for their use
By Peter Madsen, The Bulletin, @OutdoorsyInBend
Published Apr 13, 2017
When Kim McCarrel recently saddled up Bella, her chestnut-colored Tennessee walker, and set out on a group ride at Maston Trailhead in the Cline Buttes Recreation Area, a mountain biker darted into the periphery. Ears pricked, Bella slowed her trot and trained her attention toward the juniper trees through which the cyclist disappeared. Because cyclists and horseback riders use distinct trails at Maston, however, the encounter was little more than a fleeting annoyance for the mare.
Thanks to a 2009 plan the Bureau of Land Management drafted with the input of land users, including the Central Oregon Trail Alliance and the local chapter of the nonprofit Oregon Equestrian Trails, horse riders and mountain bikers at Maston Trailhead northeast of Tumalo enjoy separate — if sometimes parallel — singletrack trails. Seventeen miles of horse trails and more than 12 miles of mountain bike trails loop through homesteader ruins, located 15 miles northeast of Bend. Tailoring such trails to particular uses enriches Central Oregon’s recreational offerings, McCarrel said.
“We are so lucky because we have so many trails. We have such a variety of riding opportunities,” said McCarrel, rattling off pine forests, juniper groves and rocky badlands as potential backdrops. “Trail riding is a wonderful way to be in nature with my horse.”
The Deschutes National Forest features 13 horse camps — campsites with corrals, water guzzlers and other horse amenities — some whose maintenance Oregon Equestrian Trails and other equestrian groups and activists have assumed. The local Oregon Equestrian Trails chapter, which counts 100 members, adopted Sisters Cow Camp and Swamp Wells Horse Camp, both of which, due to volunteer maintenance, remain no-fee campgrounds. McCarrel, who has authored five Pacific Northwest equestrian guidebooks and is also the Central Oregon chapter chair of the OET, knows that if she and her peers intend to enjoy Central Oregon’s wealth of trails that allow equestrians — minority users among hikers and mountain bikers — they must help lead as stewards of the land...
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