Researching Your Backcountry Trail Ride pt. III
Where to find trail information
Online sources will often have up to date trail descriptions/conditions (e.g. “the first three miles look like a war zone”), PICTURES (my favorite is to save their pictures for your own info on meadows, water, or man that road looks rocky, better bring my horse’s boots), fishing/hunting info, etc.
-Call the Land Agency Forest Service/National Park/BLM etc and ask if anyone is familiar with that area/trail/route and talk about your plans to get good feedback.
-Topographic maps/ Road Atlas I LOVE MAPS. I love ‘em. They sparkle with possibilities, delineate trails, show water, terrain, and major features. The red State Road Atlas you buy in the gas station is AMAZING for a grand overview of the area; I’ve connected up trails together I’d never noticed were in proximity to each other. Finer scale topographic maps are definitely necessary as well, you can usually download these online through the US Geological Survey (USGS), or your local REI can print them for you, too. If you don’t know how to read a topo map, look into it, they’re truly critical to have on hand.
-Talk to the locals. Local horse groups, people who live in the area, there may be recreational, touring companies or Native people.
- Facebook You can actually search Facebook in general for the trail name (there’s a search bar at the top), and sometimes you’ll come up with local recreational trail pages where people are posting about trail conditions. You can also ask a horse trail/camping dedicated Facebook pages like Horse Trails and Camping Across America (HCTAA) or a local equestrian Facebook group (we have “Alaska Equestrians”).
- Youtube videos can let you travel the trail remotely from your computer. Mountain bikers, ATV/dirt bikers, hikers, and horseback riders will often post videos of the trail so you can “ride it” before you get there. A-Mazing.
I hope this guide will help you find the information you need to make your next trail ride safe and enjoyable.