Horseback Riding Idaho’s Panhandle National Forest & Heyburn State Park
Learn about Idaho horseback riding trails in the Panhandle National Forest and Heyburn State Park for the Equitrekking 50 State Trail Riding Project.
by Kim Schwanz
Heyburn State Park for Riders
The hands down number one spot for trail riding in Northern Idaho for the general rider is Heyburn State Park. Heyburn is the oldest park in the Pacific Northwest. It was created in 1908 and sits on 8000 acres of water and land. The trails wind through and around the hills overlooking three different lakes and the St. Joe River.
There is overnight camping at the trail head and over 20 miles of trails. The elevation ranges from 2128 to 3366 feet. The trails are easy to moderate with enough challenge for new riders and great views for everyone.
During the summer, this area has many horse events including poker trail rides, horse shows and Omoksee’s, “games on horseback.” Riders can come up and ride the trails during the week and then go to one of the local area arenas to try their hand at barrel racing, pole bending and many other events. We have contestants that range in age from six months to their 80’s and all have a great time.
For more information check out the Heyburn State Park website.
Horseback Riding the Idaho Panhandle National Forest
The Idaho Panhandle National Forest encompasses 3.2 million acres in Idaho and is accessible using the Forest Highway 50 “The St. Joe River Road”. This area has hundreds of miles of trails that are rated easy to extreme.
One that area riders recommend is the Bean Bacon Loop, which is rated difficult and is 24 miles and is an overnight campout ride. These pack-in, pack-out rides are very low use so you see very few people. I have ridden the Mallard Larkins Pioneer Trails which go to Mallard and Fawn Lakes. This trail is a 14-mile out-and-back trail and rated moderate. The fishing in these backcountry lakes is unbelievable and the scenery is breathtaking.
For more information on the trail systems in the St. Joe River Drainage, contact the St. Joe Ranger District in St. Maries Idaho at 208-245-2531. The District Ranger is Wade Sims.