A Fabulous PNW Destination – Haney Meadow
As published in the July/August issue of The Trailhead News
Summer is here but where to go? Living in the Pacific Northwest we’re more fortunate than we may realize because we have one of the finest horse riding and camping locations on the west coast available to us. Haney Meadow.
If you’ve already been acquainted, you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t yet experienced this wonderful location it’s time to start planning a trip.
Located on the eastern side of the Cascades, Haney Meadow is about thirty miles north of Ellensburg off of Highway 97, near Blewett Pass. After exiting the smooth asphalt you’ll have about 10 miles of bumpy Forest Service roads to enjoy on your way into camp. Although much improved from past years this narrow uphill drive is a small price to pay for admission into a high country wonderland with miles of trails to explore, fantastic rock formations, outrageous views, and blissful solitude.
On the drive to Haney Meadow you’ll see ample evidence of the Table Mountain fire that raged through the area in 2012. Melancholy patches of dead trees mingle in groups of charred black and bleached white. However, under these dead trunks devoid of life you’ll see the surging re-growth that’s occurring throughout the burned regions. Waist high drifts of fireweed blooming in great masses of purple and pink rolling gently over the forest floor. Sharp eyes may catch peeks of hummingbirds amongst the flowers, dancing warm welcomes for your visit here.
10 miles, and about an hour, from the highway you’ll spot the sign at the entrance to the Ken Wilcox Horse Camp; your destination point. After the horrors of the fire you may be taken aback by how “normal” the camp appears. With the exception of the upper loop the majority of the camp areas were spared. The deep green pines and firs still tower over the cozy camp spots scattered along the loop drive through camp.
For the uninitiated, camp amenities consist of well-appointed campsites with fire pits, picnic tables, vault toilets, and hitch rails. Stock water is readily available either from the well pump and stock tank or Naneum Creek running just below the campgrounds. Scores of downed trees surround the camp so you’ll have plenty of fuel for campfires for gathering and telling tall tales of the day’s rides.
As wonderful as the Ken Wilcox Horse Horse Camp is, it’s not the camp that we come here for. It’s the riding. The riding is good. Very good.
Numerous trails radiate out from the horse camp and in turn loop and link with others forming a web of nearly 50 miles of trails to explore. The trails here are relatively mild with few “sporty” areas that are easily avoided. Although the space is shared with hikers, mountain bikers, and ORV’s in the 6+ years I’ve been visiting I’ve rarely encountered anything other than elk along the trails.
Before you head out, remember that Haney Meadow is located in the Wenatchee National Forest and all livestock users are required to use certified weed-free hay or processed feed, also be sure to have your Northwest Forest Pass when you’re there.
A Note of Caution: When riding and camping at Haney Meadow keep a close eye out for deadfalls. Although the trails have been cleared dead trees will continue to fall as their roots slowly decay. A trail that is open now may well have a new log blocking it next week. Hang a saw from your saddle; you may be glad that you did. Likewise, don’t tie to a dead tree during your lunch stop. Your horse may not appreciate having his hitching post fall on him if you didn’t thoroughly check the stability first.
As always, for more information on this and other great riding areas in Washington and beyond, please visit www.TrailMeister.com the trusted trail guide of the Back Country Horsemen of Washington.