There is nothing better than camping with your horse. You spend all day on the trail, enjoying nature the way it was meant to be enjoyed – on the back of a trusted equine. And then you get to spend the evening, talking about the day’s ride over a fire and marshmallows.
The following is a list of some of the favorite camping sites that are set-up for horses in and around Thurston County. Almost all of these camps are located on state or national lands, so be sure to check for closures before heading out. Also, the use of weed-free hay is encouraged or required by anyone wishing to use most of these camps or their day-use trails.
Located in the Capitol State Forest, this campground has five dedicated stock sites open May 1-November 30. It also has corrals and places to set-up highlines. The day-use area has hitching posts, a loading ramp, highline poles and a manure bin. A Discover Pass is required.
Also located in the Capitol State Forest, the Margaret McKenny campground is a favorite of many equestrians for the miles of trails that can be accessed from the campground. Open May 1 to November 30, it has six dedicated stock sites, restrooms and the ability to make highlines. There is a dedicated equine loop (no bicyclists allowed), but other trails are open to bicyclists. All are open to pedestrians. The day-use area has hitching posts, a loading ramp, highline poles and a manure bin. A Discover Pass is also required.
Located in the Olympic National Forest, this camp is open May through October. It has stock corrals and restrooms at the campsites. Large vehicle parking spots are reserved for equine use until 6:00 p.m. Over 25 miles of trails can be accessed at this site. A Northwest Forest Pass (NWFP) or $5 fee is required for day-use parking areas. A $10 fee for overnight camping is required. If you do not have a NWFP permit, there are $5 per day envelopes that can be paid on-site at the Mt. Muller trailhead. This site is close to Forks (25 miles) and Port Angeles (35 miles).
A stunning campground and trail in the Olympic National Forest, the North Fork Skokomish River Trail is a more rustic camping area. They have several camp sites (but only a few have restrooms), or you can camp pretty much anywhere as long as you do not set-up camp on the vegetation and stay at least 200 feet from water sources. You have to pack out your toilet paper if you are not using the restrooms. The lush vegetation and gorgeous river scenery make this campground a must visit at least once. Permits must be obtained through the Port Angeles Wilderness Information Center by calling 360-565-3100 or visiting the WIC website.
The LeBar Horse Camp has 13 campsites that accommodate horse trailers as well as the option to create highlines at each camp. Restrooms and picnic shelters are also available. Large evergreen conifers provide great shade at this popular campground. This camp is reserved for equine use only. The cost is $14/night for a single unit including two vehicles and a maximum of eight people. You will be charged $5 extra for any vehicles over two. The closest town is Shelton.
The Greet Mountain Horse Camp, located in the Green Mountain State Forest, is open Memorial Day to Labor Day. It offers access to 13 miles of equine trails. Green Mountain is the second highest peak in the area, so the ride offers plenty of breathtaking views of the Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, Seattle skyline and Mount Rainer. Seventeen campsites have corrals, highline areas, picnic tables and fire rings or grates. Restrooms are available. Portable pens are allowed. Most sites can hold two rigs; some can hold more. A Discover Pass is required.
Located in Sequim off Chicken Coop Rd., this camp may be a bit of a drive, but it is nice because it is a private horse camp run by Delman and Judy Sage. They have 25 camping spaces available for a suggested donation $20/night for two people and two horses. Additional horses cost $10/night or $7 for a day pass. The trails are on DNR land.
Located in the Tahuya State Forest, this camp and its surrounding trails are mostly used for off-road vehicles (ORV). However, there are a few weekends during the summer when it is closed to ORV so that horse riders may use the camp. For 2017 the weekends are July 7-9, July 21-23, August 11-13 and August 25-27. They have 11 campsites with corrals, fire rings and picnic tables. One site is ADA compliant. A Discover Pass is required.
Miller Peninsula State Equine Park
The Backcountry Horsemen Peninsula Chapter worked with the state parks to open this site as an equine facility. “The chapter also built an ADA compliant connector loop trail there,” says Don Gonder, a member of the chapter. It is only a few years old, so it might not be known by many riders. The trails cover an amazing range of environments: dense forest, open grass land, narrow trails and broad, decommissioned roads and beach access. It is located near Diamond Pt. Road just off Hwy 101.
Whether you decide to try them all, or just go back to an old favorite, you are sure to enjoy a summer experience at any of these camps. Remember it is always a good idea to bring your own water for you and your horse and a compass or GPS system for navigating the trails as not all of them are marked. Happy trails to you!