As Published in The Northwest Horse Source February 2017 issue
Willow Prairie Horse Camp, Medford, Oregon
Trailhead Coordinates: 42.4056, -122.3898
Towering forests, alpine meadows, ponds, and
over 30 miles of great trails await horse riders and campers at the Willow Prairie Horse Camp in southwestern Oregon.
Located just a few miles southwest of Mt. McLoughlin which soars 5,300 feet overhead, the Willow Prairie Horse Camp sits in a flat area, next to its namesake meadow in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. You’ll find the meadow hosts a series of wetland areas, and a few shallow beaver ponds. In addition to the humans and equines that visit the area, regular homesteaders are ducks and geese amongst a myriad of waterfowl living in the wetlands. Forest denizens include coyotes, deer, elk and bear. Regarding the area’s bear and coyote population; a clean camp won’t attract them and will help keep your camp adventures much more manageable!
The camp’s elevation of 4,400 feet means that spring and summer arrive here just a little later than camps at lower elevations and latitudes. Depending upon the severity of the winter it’s not unheard of to have traces of snow in the camp ground well into June.
Horse campers pulling into Willow Prairie will find 10 very well appointed camp sites each with sturdy log corrals, fire pit, and picnic table. Shared amenities include potable well water, troughs for horse water, vault toilets, and a designated manure trailer for equine waste. A campground host is usually in camp during the heaviest usage period from Memorial Day to Labor Day to collect camp fees, answer questions, and generally keep the camp running smoothly. As the abundance of amenities and the presence of a campground host confirms, Willow Prairie is a very popular destination point for horse riders and campers. Reservations are encouraged!
For campers wanting an extra special experience during their stay at Willow Prairie, the historic Willow Prairie Guard Station, a one-room log cabin at the edge of the meadow, is available for rent. Built in 1924 it is rustic with the bare necessities, but in a beautiful setting and is a bit more secluded than the regular campsites.
In addition to a wonderful campground, Willow Prairie’s trails are well maintained, scenic, and a pleasure to ride. There are about 30 miles of trails meandering throughout this beautiful area. Trails here tend to be rocky in places so shoes or boots are recommended. Spring riders will encounter many water obstacles while visitors later in the year will find a drier environment as well as more people.
Other trail systems that are easily accessed from camp are the Willow Lake and Rye Springs systems which allow riders miles upon miles of riding opportunities.
Until next month for more information on these and other equestrian riding destinations throughout the U.S. please visit www.TrailMeister.com your source for the straight scoop on horse trails and horse camps.