Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Trail Riding at Mt. Spokane--brrrr

Originally published in 2012

Mt. Spokane State Park is the largest state park in Washington. It has almost 14,000 acres. On yesterday's ride we encountered sunshine and snow, depending on which side of the Mt. we were on at the time.

According to the rangers, there are 6 bull moose in the area we rode (Mt. Kit Carson road) who were a little worked up because of fall rut. Apparently, moose rut from September to late October. We saw tracks, but we didn't see moose, and maybe that was a good thing. (Notice we're wearing orange--just in case we crossed through private land).

I have to wonder, though, what the horses saw/smelled/heard. They got crazy antsy on the West side of the hill where it was more primitive and cold. At one point Cowboy started tossing his head and attempted to throw a buck--the other horse reared up. When we got out of there, they settled right back down.

I have to admit, I've only studied the map of this area in retrospect. I had no idea what a large area it was beforehand. I'd skiied at the top of the mountain, but never rode horseback through the park itself. The map we had to reference the trails was small and full of terms we did not know--like "NFA". Come to find out, that means "Natural Forest Area". That is also the area where the horses got crazy. Specifically, the Blanchard Creek NFA. It makes sense--the whole area felt more wild--dense, dark, cold and rugged.

Also, there was a point at which the road forked. As you can see in the picture, the only sign in the middle of the fork is "130". We mistakenly took the lower road which led us away from our destination.

That will be our last ride of the year to Mt. Spokane, but I'm studying the maps so that I'm ready to explore it more fully next Spring. It's a great equestrian resource. I don't know if Spokane natives know how lucky they are to live in a city and have so much riding available to them within a very short drive--Riverside State Park, Palisades, Mt. Spokane State Park, Liberty Lake, Missile Site Road, Slavin Ranch, Fishtrap Lake, to name the ones I'm familiar with.

(Riverside ride two weeks earlier)

Maps and information about Mt. Spokane State Park:

State Site--free download map and info. Link

Friends of Mt. Spokane--download free trail and topographic maps. Link


  1. Beautiful pictures! I don't know about you, but I'm not ready for snow yet.

  2. It looks like a perfect fall day, what a beautiful time to ride. It's interesting to know how the horse's senses are receptive to things that yours might not be, thus their antsy behavior. It must make you more tuned in to the life around you as you ride.

  3. Thank you--it was definitely a beautiful day. The snow/cold sure does make barn chores more difficult. I'm dreading the heavy wheelbarrows full of soaked chips. Ugh! I don't want to think about it.

    And yes, it absolutely makes you more tuned into your surroundings, that's the great thing about being on horseback. Love it!

  4. They say a horse's sense of smell is second only to the grizzly bear; makes sense, looking at the length of that nasal cavity! When Jesse acts like that, I start looking for mountain lion sign. She can usually find a print for me to make sure I understand...and when she says it's time to make an exit, we skedaddle pretty fast. I trust her implicitly when out like that.

    What gorgeous country you get to ride. Very glad you get out and enjoy it.

  5. I didn't know that about the horse's sense of smell--very interesting! Thanks for that information. That's amazing that Jesse and you can communicate so well and that you listen. Cowboy and I were at odds yesterday--unfortunately--he didn't seem to want to be on the trip at all and balked at some of the very first requests to enter the park and cross the first stream. He walked out fast though--real fast--all uphill at first--and I believe his acting out was in response to a perceived threat in the woods. Still, I'm going to let him rest for a few days...take him out some carrots...some grain...give him some rewards for all his hard work...try to get him back to his happy-camper mode!

  6. What beautiful pictures, Linda. I also loved your posts about Secretariat, and I enviously enjoyed all of your Riverside and other ride pictures as well! I can't wait to get back in the saddle and join you all. Hopefully my foot will be smaller than a football by spring and I'll be able to join you. Alexa is anxious to try out some new areas, so I think I'll study the Mt. Spokane maps as well over the winter and be ready to hit the trails in the spring!

    I have a friend who lives at the base of the mountains in Cataldo, and she trusts her mare implicitly when it comes to her sensing a bear or a moose, as the mare has proven on more than one occasion that she knows whereof she speaks...or smells..as the case may be!

  7. Laura-I hope you heal up this winter so you're ready to ride with me in spring. I'll take you on that Mt. Spokane ride if you want....maybe late spring after it warms up a bit up there.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.