Horsetail Run Trail
The 7th most popular equestrian trail in Ohio.
Thursday 4 August 2016 03:34 GMT
Welcome to the heart and soul of Mohican country -- the 5000 acre Mohican-Memorial State Forest. This is another trail riding paradise I just happened to stumble across. Much like the Hocking Hills area, this gem of Ohio already has significant annual tourism and therefore receives no advertising and little press. So you can imagine my surprise when I encountered 22 miles of pristine backcountry bridle trails, many miles of which appear to be groomed! Moreover, the terrain is ideal for trail riding; rolling hills, wide creeks, deep ravines and even a gorge. do not forget to force yourself to break, rest, and enjoy the view.
This state forest is composed of two distinct sections separated by SR 97: the Memorial Forest to the south and the Mohican Forest to the north. From a trail perspective, the interconnecting patch work of state property in the Memorial Forest is perfect for maximizing the mileage while minimizing the dollars for land acquistion (see map). The layout of the Horsetail Run Trail attempts to cross every quadrant of state property. Across SR 97, the Mohican Forest borders the Clear Fork River which is designated a National Scenic River. While the trail doesn't run down to the river, it does run the ridges near the best section of river gorge from the covered bridge downstream east to the confleunce with the Mohican River.
From the trail head, follow the red-blazed Pine Run Trail southwest down into the Pine Run Valley. Stay to the right and cross Pine Run. The trail heads up a gentle grade east of the narrow meadows along Pine Run. While ascending, thick pine stands are past. With the periodic stands of tall pines from the reforestation efforts, one expects to see the numerous short-sighted, slow-moving porcupines. These critters spend much of their night high in the sky, feeding among the branches on sap-laden inner bark and pine needles. During warmer months, it does, however, venture down into the meadows to dine on roots, shoots, grasses and flowers. Porcupines are best known for their up to 30,000 hollow quills, which provide protection from preditors, as well as extra bouyance for these good swimmers.
After reaching the top, continue to track the red blazes to the right. At the junction with the narrower, blue-blazed Horsetail Run Trail, proceed right to the southeast. The Horsetail Run Trail descends and follows CR 3286 until it loops across TR 3275. After returning across TR 3275 again, the trail conditions deterioate as it passes down into older, lush ravines. This is my favorite section of trail because of the smells, sights, and speed. Upon splashing Pine Run for the second time, the track jogs immediately left briefly before heading up the ridge past to two designated campsites.
Across TR 3236, the trail follows a variety of jeep trails to SR97. After climbing from TR 3236 on these jeep trails, the track traverses through thick, dark pine stands. Heading down to SR 97, the track is strewn with large rocks and just after the cutoff leading towards the road, it becomes a wide quagmire. Beyond SR 97, climb to the ridge top for a nice vista and then prepare for a roller coaster descent to FS 1. Grind up the ridge on manicured trails again into broad pine stands. Once on the ridge, this wide trail has a gentle grade, for the most part, all the way back up to the trail head. Many trails cut in and out so keep sharp.
So your not tired from these 14-odd miles? How about another scenic and rolling 5 miles. Before crossing SR 97 to the trail head, continue on the green-blazed Grouse Run Trail. Follow it west and stay to the left as it passes through an active forest management area (i.e. logging). At 0.8 miles, the trail leaves the jeep trail for a single track in second growth forest alongside broad farmlands. At the old white oak tree, gain speed on the wild descent to power back up the following hill to the left after merging with a jeep trail. Note, the jeep trails service old gas lines. At 2.3 miles, the Grouse Run Trail ends at a turn-around point on a ridge. Look for the overgrown single track which continues down through the forest to Clear Fork River. It meets up with the red-blazed boundary trail. Follow it east across FS 8. Head south on FS 8 for 50’ to the Hog Hollow Trail access. Ride this trail through and over the creek winding up towards its headwaters. The trail eventually merges with an old jeep trail which can be followed back up to the trailhead parking.
To reach the trailhead, use Exit 169 on U.S. I-71. Proceed south on S.R. 13 to Belville. Follow SR 97 east. Look for trail head parking on right just past the memorial.
Overall, Horsetail Run Trail is the 7th most popular horse trail of all 32 horseback rides in Ohio.