Fall can be a depressing time for anyone who enjoys exploring our local trails via horseback. This is because almost all the state and national parks close until Spring. And while we understand it’s to save the wear and tear on the trails, that doesn’t mean we aren’t sad to see the trail riding season end. Fortunately, we have a couple places in the area that afford year-round riding, so we can still get out on the trail – one of these is the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area. Located in South Thurston County near Rochester, the trails here are beautiful year-round.
When you get there, it’s important you park at the horse trailering area, and not at the recreation site, as horses are not allowed on the prairie. In the fall, bright colors are a good idea, as hunting is allowed on the prairie. Follow the path that skirts the prairie, past the Scatter Creek Stables, and onto the gravel road that leads to the lands owned by a logging company. Here, is where the modern world disappears for a time, and you are transported into a dense forest of towering trees, green moss, ferns, and plenty of scope for the imagination.
If it’s been dry, I highly recommend taking the left path after the first right turn and past logging company boundary sign. It is absolutely gorgeous in that forest. When the rains come, you can continue up the logging road and explore its many paths; following the main one will eventually take you up to where the it’s been clear cut. The only thing that interrupts the peaceful nature up there is the powerlines.
Since it’s a year-round road, it is rocky so tender-footed horses may not enjoy this path without shoes. A Vehicle Access Pass or a Discover Pass is required to park and ride at Scatter Creek. During the hot summers, if we have had little rain, the logging company will sometimes close the trail for fire-safety, so you may want to drive by without the horses then to check and make sure it’s open if we’ve had a dry spell.
Otherwise, take a deep breath, breathe in the fresh forest air and enjoy the beauty.