HORSE OWNERS OPTIONS
The Backcountry Camps in Austin Creek State
Recreation Area are closed until
further notice due to budget cuts. Dayrides OK.
State Reserve and the adjoining Austin
Creek State Recreation Area offer the equestrian over 20 miles of trails
exploring 6000 acres of deep cool redwoods, shady conifer and oak woodlands,
sunny chaparral, open grasslands, and the riparian habitats of five streams.
Elevations range from 120 feet above sea level to 2000' Coastal Mountain vistas.
Trails are frequently steep, rugged and narrow with unsided bridges but nothing
too treacherous for experienced trail horses and riders comfortable in mountainous terrain
(except the abandoned and overgrown Gilliam Creek Trail).
DAY RIDERS can pay the day-use fee and park
their trailers by the Maintenance Yard behind the picnic area where trailheads
connect to the East Ridge Trail or Pool Ridge Trail. Buy
a map at the Entrance or Visitor Center so you don't get lost.
Take the right fork after you enter the Park, do NOT attempt to drive a trailer
to our Pack Station.
Although the streams are safe for horses, carry plenty of drinking water
for there is no potable water in the backcountry. Pack lunch and prepare
for changes in temperature and weather.
A popular 6-mile loop uses the East Ridge Trail crossing
over to the Pool Ridge Trail at the top of the connecting 1400'
ridge. To the east of the open ridgetop meadow, a glade of trees hides
a spring flowing into a horse trough hewn from a log, with pure drinking
water suitable for refilling your canteen.
More ambitious riders continue on a 14- or 20-mile loop past
the trough, up McCray Mountain and past Bull Frog Pond Campground.
Cross the road and continue on an unmarked trail to the fire road descending
to Gilliam Creek. To the left of the bridge is a trail that connects to
Gilliam Creek Trail back up the mountain, taking Pool Ridge Trail
down the other side of the mountain to your trailer, completing a 14
Or cross the bridge and continue along the creek, up Thompson Ridge
to Tom King Camp or on to Austin Creek. A mile upstream are
the two Mannings Flat Camps currently closed. For a very challenging ride
where you may have to get off and lead your horse, the 20 mile loop crosses Austin Creek following
a washed-out fire road downstream to Gilliam Creek Trail. Follow Gilliam Creek
up an overgrown treacherous trail (the Park no longer maintains this trail and
we no longer use it!)
until it climbs back over the mountain picking up Pool Ridge Trail
on the other side which returns to your trailer or our Pack Station.
HORSE CAMPING: These camps are currently
closed. Camping in the Backcountry is no longer allowed. Disregard info below.
The State Park allows horses only in the three primitive Tom
King and Mannings Flat Backcountry Campsites, 8 to 10 miles from
Backcountry permits required, available on a first-come basis.
Park behind the Picnic Area by the Maintenance Yard after
acquiring your permit at the Ranger Station between 8am and 4pm summers
or phone for ranger schedule off-season.
Both camps have adequate creek water for horses but must be purified for
humans. Except for Spring, feed is marginal and requires supplements.
No corrals, and the hitching rails are inadequate. Horses must be hobbled
to graze and take rope for overhead picket lines.
Each campsite has a pit toilet, picnic table with critter cupboard, and
fire ring but no ground fires allowed all summer until the rainy season,
so take a camp stove. No fishing or hunting.
For more information, phone Laura & Jonathan
Ayers, ranch and pack station owners, in the evening at (707) 887-2939.
& Laura Ayers
owners - Since 1983
287, Guerneville, CA 95446
All rides reserved
by phone conversation only.