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Horse Ridge Recreation Area

Prineville District  |  OR

Season Dates:  1/1 - 12/31

Fees:  none

Notice to Horse Ridge visitors: Because of safety and resource damage considerations, visitors are requested to park at the new off-street Horse Ridge trailhead and not along old highway 20. Thank you.

Just 20 miles southeast of Bend, Oregon, this 40 square mile region of lava and juniper is managed by the Prineville District of the Bureau of Land Management. The area is bounded to the south by the Deschutes National Forest to the north lies the Oregon Badlands Wilderness and Dry River Canyon to the northeast. Pine Mountain is at the ridge's southeast quarter, and the South Millican area east. The rural residential communities along Rickard, Gosney and Groff Roads are to the northwest.

Natural History

The area includes two distinct landforms: Horse Ridge - a series of prominent fault-bounded ridges roughly parallel to State Highway 20 - and the Skeleton Fire area, a generally flat, yet rocky area located to the northwest. Horse Ridge rises to an elevation of approximately 4,700 feet and includes an ungrazed, 600-acre Research Natural Area established in 1967 as a research and study plot for western juniper big sagebrush plant communities. (See sidebar for additional information). The adjacent Skeleton Fire area has few mature juniper trees, a result of the 1996 fire which burned 17,000 acres and damaged or destroyed 30 homes. Today, one can see the effects of the fire in the diverse shrubs and native grasses in this basaltic expanse.

The old growth juniper woodland and open shrub-steppe habitats in this area provide important habitat for wildlife, such as elk, mule deer, pronghorn, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, bluebirds and flickers and greater sage grouse.

Know Before You Go

The Horse Ridge Recreation Area is managed for non-motorized trail use. Motor vehicles are allowed only on designated roads marked with green dots. Equestrians, bicyclists and pedestrians may use designated roads, as well as existing trails or cross country travel. Winter and early spring are the most popular times for trail use in this area, as soil conditions provide for firm trail tread, and less trail damage. Motorized trail riding opportunities are seasonally available nearby in the Millican Valley and East Fort Rock OHV Trail Systems. The long term goal for the Horse Ridge Recreation Area is to develop a trail system for a variety of non-motorized trail uses while improving wildlife habitat conditions and avoiding the 600-acre Horse Ridge Research Natural Area.

Please help protect Horse Ridge and others by following the following rules and regulations:

  • Cross country travel by motor vehicles is illegal: they are limited to the designated green dot road system.
  • On the trail, hikers should yield to equestrians and bikers should yield to all other users.
  • Horse Ridge proper is closed to firearm discharge unless legally hunting (see map for target shooting closure area).
  • Respect private property by staying on public lands.
  • Leave gates as you find them: either open or closed.

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Trailhead Coordinates: 43.946156, -121.043257.

From Highway 20 and 3rd street in Bend, Oregon, drive east 17.9 miles to the Oregon Badlands Wilderness sign, turn hard right and proceed 0.7 miles to the Horse Ridge Trailhead.

Contact Information

3050 N.E. 3rd Street
Prineville, OR 97754

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