Horse Riding


A group which started at South Fork Stables makes its way down the Creeper Trail south of Damascus.

Equestrian Things Around Damascus

Trails

The Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
The Mount Rogers National Recreation Area offers outstanding opportunities for horseback riding. Except for the Appalachian Trail (marked with white painted blazes) and a few other trails clearly labeled as being closed to horse use, horses are allowed on all trails throughout the NRA. In all, over 200 miles of trail are open to equestrians.

Virginia Highlands Horse Trail
The Virginia Highlands Horse Trail (orange paint blazes) stretches for over 67 miles from Highway 600 at Elk Garden to Route 94 not far from Ivanhoe, Virginia. This trail traverses the fragile and beautiful High Country of the National Recreation Area and can sometimes be crowded on weekends and holidays.

Camps

High Country Horse Camp
Located adjacent to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. http://www.highcountryhorsecamp.com

Fox Creek Horse Camp
Located between Troutdale and Konnarock (about 18 miles east of Damascus), at the junction of Highways 603 and 741, this primitive facility is favored by horse campers. Features include hitching posts and access to horse watering. Portable toilets, but no drinking water or showers. Showers are available at Grindstone Campground for a fee. The camp offers access to the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail, Iron Mountain Trail, and trails to Mount Rogers High Country. Open year around. This camp is a fee area. A very popular destination on weekends and holidays from April-September.

Hussy Mountain Horse Camp
Located on Forest Road 14, two miles east of Highway 21 on the east end of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Features include hitching rails, horse trailer parking, and chemical flush toilets. Open year-around; fee area. The camp offers access to the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail.

Raven Cliff Horse Camp
The camp is about a mile east of Raven Cliff Campground, just south of Highway 642. Its features include hitching rails, chemical flush toilets and horse trailer parking. The camp offers access to Virginia Highlands Horse Trail and is open year-around.

Horse Sense
Good health and proper shots prevent diseases from spreading. Virginia State Law requires that all horses must have proof of a negative Coggins Test within the past year. Horses from other States must also have a valid certificate of health. Recommended, but not required, inoculations are: influenza, rhinopneumonitis, and eastern and western encephalitis.

Before going out, make sure that your horse's shoes are secure and that the animal is sound on all four feet. If your horse's respiration becomes jerky or irregular while on the trail, stop and let it recover. Then walk out.

Horses in the high country - Richard Smith photo
Taking a break on the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail.

Special Considerations

Always hobble horses or tie them to a hitchline or picket line. NEVER tie them to a tree, even for a few minutes. Camp and tether horses at least 100 feet from streams or springs. Wash bodies and dishes well away from streams & springs.

Always stay on the trail. CUTTING ACROSS SWITCHBACKS IS ILLEGAL. Taking shortcuts will quickly destroy the beauty you came to enjoy.

Equestrians may use nearly every trail in the NRA (except where indicated as no horses) including those in wildernesses. The major exception is the Appalachian National Scenic Trail which is reserved for hikers only. A few other trails off limits to horses are clearly signed. Please do not trespass on these trails.

PACK IT IN --- PACK IT OUT! If you packed it in full, you can surely pack it out empty. This goes for cigarette packs and butts also. Did you know that a cigarette filter takes 10 years to decompose?

When it has been unusually rainy, avoid using certain trails. Use hard packed forest roads instead. Always practice no trace camping. Build only small campfires, use a stove for cooking, and clean up after yourself. Most maintenance work on trails is done by volunteers, folks just like you who enjoy riding, hiking, or bicycling. If you'd like to have better trails, volunteer! There's no finer way to maintain and improve the good image of horseback riders than pitching in with trail maintenance.

Discussion of nearby trails in Horsetrailerworld.com.

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