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Horse Use On The Buffalo River

One of the many ways to enjoy the Buffalo River is by horse. Designated trails for horseback riding are located in all districts of the national river. A brochure describing the designated trails is available from visitor contact stations. Numerous old roads, now closed to motor vehicles, provide riding opportunities for those willing to explore areas without the benefit of trail signs.

Buffalo River Horse Trails

Two camping areas in the upper river have been designated for visitors with horses. These areas, at Steel Creek and Erbie, are accessible by vehicle and provide basic facilities such as fire grates and vault toilets. Both camps are located adjacent to horse trails. Neither site is designated to accommodate more than ten vehicles with trailers.

Middle river horse users may overnight at Woolum. They are not permitted, however, in other developed campgrounds. Visitors to the Lower Buffalo Wilderness Area may camp at Big Creek or Hathaway Gap Trailheads. Water for stock is unavailable, however, and there are no facilities in these areas.

Because of their size, horses have a greater impact on trail surfaces then do hikers. Many hiking trails were not designed to accommodate horse use. Please keep horses off those trails designated for hiking only. Horses may be ridden on old roadbeds and across gravel bars but should not be taken cross country.

Large groups of riders cause greater harm to the environment than do small groups. Riders, like all backcountry travelers, should seek ways to reduce their impact on the environment. Travel with horses requires particular care on the part of riders to minimize their impact on trails and on campsites. As a rider your goal is to make decisions and choose practices that will cause the least amount of damage and leave only short-term impacts.

  1. Horses should not be tied directly to trees. Use a "high picket line" rigged outside of your camp area or hitch racks where provided.
  2. Traveling outside the established tread, to ride abreast or to avoid rocks or mud, breaks down the trail edge and widens the trail. It can also lead to the development of multiple trails.
  3. Riders should remove or scatter horse manure from camp areas, trailheads, or loading areas.
  4. When watering horses or crossing streams, use rocky areas to prevent banks from caving in and leaving a permanent scar.
  5. Where available, camp in previously used sites away from streams and trails.
  6. Tie horses off the trail and away from wet or boggy areas. Rocky ground that catches a breeze will discourage insects and allow horses to stand quieter.
  7. When you leave, there should be little or no evidence of your stay. "Pack it in, pack it out."

There are currently no commercial horse outfitters operating at the Buffalo National River.

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