The Beauty of Weekday Trail Riding

It's a tricky task: managing to arrive at the trail head just as weekend warriors are vacating the site.

I camp Sunday through Thursday night, or possibly Friday morning so I can enjoy the beauty and solitude of the trails, clean facilities and my horse's quiet mind, because he's not distracted by other horses. The whole park becomes a private enclave.

Here are a few tips for weekday trail riding.

  • Call before you haul to make sure the facilities are open. Some camps are closed to overnight visitors on Sunday and/or Monday nights.

  • Make a reservation, if necessary.

  • Tell someone exactly where you're going. Leave them a map with the location marked, and provide camp/park contact numbers.

  • If possible, arrive late Sunday afternoon. Often riders leaving camp will share any unusual circumstances of which to be aware.

  • Choose a campsite near the park's entry. It's easier to navigate your rig from that area, and emergency vehicles can find you.

  • Make an emergency contact card from a brightly colored 5-by-7-inch file card. On it, list the date, time and area you'll be riding and your cell-phone number. Update the card every time you leave camp.

  • Secure a cell phone to someone's body, not a saddle.

  • Pack saddlebags with appropriate items: a compass, temporary horseshoe, sunscreen, insect repellant, a multipurpose tool, collapsible water bucket, first-aid kit, food and water.

  • Plan your turnaround point, so you can return to camp before dark.

  • Practice zero-impact camping and trail riding.