Horseback Riding

Designated equestrian trails that are a combination of fire lanes, service roads and single track trails posted and mapped as openRecent Land Use Orders have changed the way horses, other riding animals, and pack animals can be used in the Pigeon River Country (PRC) State Forest. For more information, see Land Use Order of the Director effective February 16, 2016. 

“The purpose of this order is to open and reroute equine trails within the Pigeon River Country State Forest (PRCSF), which will be designated and posted as open as provided for in the existing Land Use Order of the Director 4.34. As shown on the attached map, this order will allow about 5.6 miles of additional riding on 16 segments of closed service roads and single track trails within the forest, and reroute 2 short segments of existing trail totally about 0.25 miles. The proposed trails, along with 7.5 miles approved in 2013, will provide an extensive system of equine routes for looped riding opportunities.”

Camping
Camping with horses, other riding animals, or pack animals within the Pigeon River Country (PRC) is only allowed in the following designated campgrounds:

  • Elk Hill Equestrian State Forest Campground
  • Elk Hill Trail Camp (groups – requires event permit)
  • Johnson’s Crossing Trail Camp (groups – requires event permit)

The four dispersed horse campsites are Hardwood Lake (10’N 24’W), Witness Tree (9’N 26’W), Duby Lake (18’N 23’W) and Oxbow Creek (13’N 17’W). They are marked with a sign but have no amenities (no fire ring, toilet, or water). They are available first-come, first-served at no charge with a Camp Registration Card. Each site is limited to 4 rigs and 12 people.

Riding
Riding or leading horses, other riding animals, or pack animals is allowed only on the following:

  • The North Spur of the Shore-to-Shore Riding/Hiking Trail
  • County Roads
  • Forest Roads that are designated as open on the PRC State Forest Access Map (see map other side)
  • Designated equestrian trails that are a combination of fire lanes, service roads and single track trails posted and mapped as open

Safety First! Please use caution when riding. Open roads are shared with cars, trucks (including logging trucks), snowmobiles, and mountain bikes as well as horses.

So … how do you know where to ride?
This information, is meant to clarify where you can legally ride in the PRC. If you still have questions, feel free to stop in at the PRC Headquarters when open, or call 989-983-4101.

For day trips from the Elk Hill Equestrian State Forest Campground, some optional loop rides are shown on the map below. These loops combine parts of the North Spur of the Shore-to-Shore Riding/Hiking Trail, open roads, and two sections of service roads that are posted as open for horse use. The approximate distance given is round- trip from Elk Hill Equestrian State Forest Campground.

Other Options
On state forest lands outside the PRC, horses may ride on roads, trails, and cross-country unless specifically restricted. Dispersed camping is allowed on state forest lands outside the PRC unless specifically restricted. See the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnr, or call the Gaylord Operations Service Center at 989-732-3541 or the Cadillac Operations Service Center at 231-775-9727, for more information on state lands in the Northern Lower Peninsula.