Danville Georgetown – A Wonderful Front Country Ride
As Published in the January / February 2011 edition of BCHW’s The Trailhead News Magazine
As Back Country Horsemen, we may yearn for the unfettered wilds and high mountain vistas of the backcountry. However, the front country has wonderful riding opportunities that offer ease of access during the wet and wild winter season.
One of the better options for keeping both you and your horses (and mules!) in shape over winter is the Danville Georgetown trail system in Maple Valley, WA. Located in the heart of suburbia, Danville Georgetown is easy to find and easy to get to, as well as being only a short mile away from the nearest coffee shop for pre-ride caffeine and a post-ride warm up.
Who says suburban riding is run of the mill? Danville Georgetown offers not only 27 plus miles of riding over 16 named trails, but also a brand new and King County’s first ever, “Equestrian Trail Training Course” where riders can safely practice those backcountry riding skills that will come in handy when they venture into more unforgiving areas.
The obstacles in the Trail Training Course represent some of the most common riding challenges that we, as backcountry riders, experience;
- The Back Through – Narrow windy trails make you nervous? Increase your confidence by practicing trail-backing maneuvers here.
- Gate – Get off the animal to open and close a gate? Not a chance after practicing at this station.
- Walk Overs – Get ready for spring’s inevitable downed branches and logs with this natural cavaletti course.
- Single Step Over – Ever wondered how best to navigate a log suspended over the trail? This is a great place for your horse to practice stepping over as opposed to jumping over obstacles.
- Serpentine Poles – Even if you’re not on the pole bending circuit, the ability to make tight turns confidently is a valuable skill on some of the switchbacks we encounter while in the high country of Washington’s Cascades.
- Mail Box on Pole – We’ve all been in situations where a seemingly harmless item is terrifying to our horse. This a good place to start the desensitization process.
The Tahoma BCHW chapter worked with the King County Parks Department in the planning of this course and 22 hard-working BCHW Tahoma chapter members provided over 132 man hours of labor during the construction of the six obstacles and two hitching rails. Natural materials were used wherever possible to both follow our LNT principles and to keep the project cost at a very reasonable $350.
The group was ably led by the Tahoma chapter’s Rick Zeleznik, who organized the work party. Special thanks to other Tahoma chapter members, Lourie Boltz and Pam Zeleznik,for the hot lunch that kept the group going and of course to Don Boltz, whose tractor made short work of the post hole digging. This project is already bearing positive returns in terms of feedback from local officials and horse enthusiasts who are using this example of BCHW good works as an introduction into the backcountry riding that we love and promote. We fully expect to see an increase in our membership numbers because of this very visible gift to the local equestrian community.
For more information on this as well as many other great front country riding areas visit www.TrailMeister.com.