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333 Multi-Use Horse Trail
Packing List

group ride in Rocky Mountain

A few years back, we visited Big South Fork National Recreation Area for a two night, high mileage backpacking trip. We planned to hike on hiking only trails and multi-use trails. Starting the hike was a splendid trail for hikers only that led to the rim of the Big South Fork River. We descended from the rim to a tributary crossing. The hiking trail ended and the multi-use horse trail began. We slogged in mud and various horse excrements for miles. The bottom road had expanded from an original 15 foot width to at least 50 feet from riders guiding their horse to not as muddy sections of terrain. Our trip had just begun. For the next twenty-five miles we had to walk in the path of the horses. We left that trip with an oath - never to walk on a horse trail again. The oath was much like a new year's resolution, short lived. So many backcountry areas are only accessible by multi-use trails at times you just have to walk with the horses.

Our experiences have led us to a special packing list top ten. Hope some of the ideas help you.

10 - A Spare Pair of Shoes - Your shoes get very yucky in the trenches of a multi-use horse path. It is worth the extra weight to carry another pair. If possible wash the soiled pair each day.

9 - Extra Socks - Even worse than yucky shoes are slimy socks. When the mud is deeper than the height of your shoes, the worse of the worse occurs - your socks become soiled. Three pair of socks are a minimum. Rinse each pair as often as possible.

8 - Gaiters - Leggings extend the height of your boots. Rinse the gaiters as often as possible.

7 - Dust Mask or Bandana - In the dry climates of the American West face protection is advisable. Toxic dust is lifted into the air with each hoof. The bandana aids in clean breathing.

6 - Stream Crossers - Horse trails do not have bridges over streams that a horse could easily cross. Hikers have to ford each stream. Always have a plan for crossing streams.

5 - Clothes Pin - Sometimes the odor is unbearable.

4 - Fly Netting - Anyone who walks a horse trail in the summer will be scarred by the dreaded horsefly and some of their cousins. The flies swarm and bite for hours. There are so many of the flies in places that they are starving for blood. No amount of horse flesh seems to sate their appetites. Shooing does not help. A net helps; but they have been known to bite through clothing. You might also need a XXX insect repellent.

3 - Compass - When you are at wit's end and decide to leave the trail and travel cross country, you will need a compass to help navigate.

2 - SPOT 911 - When there is no other answer, push the SPOT Panic 911 Button. A search and rescue team will be activated and they will find you. Hopefully you will be air evacuated from the trail's inferno; but you might be charged a large sum of money for the rescue. Sometimes, it seems as if it would be worth it.

1 - 30 Gallon Trash Bag - A horse size poop scoop bag to clean up the trail. If everyone carried a bag, soon the trails would at least be rid of the potent droppings. Okay, in a perfect world, the horse riders would tend to these chores; but I just don't see that happening any time soon.

Notes ...

  • Seriously, always practice "Leave No Trace" principles - even when walking multi-use trails.
  • Only summon 911 help in the event of an actual emergency.

Happy horsey trails.


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