Equestrian Riding and Trails in
DuPont State Forest,
Gorges State Park,
and Pisgah Ranger District

                  courtesy Backcountry Horsemen of Pisgah

Equestrian Riding and Trails


An increasingly popular way of experiencing the trails is from atop a horse or mule.  I regularly encounter horsemen in DuPont and frequently in Pisgah Ranger District.  Every horsemen I have talked with was having a great time, so I decided to add this page for our equine-enthused friends in the area who want to ride the trails.

I am not qualified to speak about horses, so I enlisted the aid of Tom Thomas to help me out.  If the Blue Ridge Mountains had a short list of friends, Tom would be on it.  He is a well-known educator and outdoorsman from Transylvania County, and he has spent countless hours in the woods.  He is the President of the Back Country Horsemen of North Carolina and very active with Gorges, Pisgah, and DuPont both at the user level and management level.  You can thank Tom for many of the beneficial features in these areas as he has served as a volunteer on various boards directing their creation.  His article follows.


 After Tom’s introduction is a list of horse-friendly trails in all three areas.

                   courtesy Backcountry Horsemen of Pisgah


So, You Want To Go Trail Riding or Horse Camping


By: Tom Thomas, President Back Country Horsemen of North Carolina

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina


You want to go trail riding or possibly horse camping. Congratulations!  I have enjoyed the wilderness for over 50 years backpacking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, mountaineering, and, yes, more than anything else, horse packing, and can honestly say that the best way to experience the many vistas, valleys, waterfalls, and wildlife you will encounter is to see it from the top of a horse or mule. 


The Basics:

Here are some suggestions to make your trail riding or horse camping an all-around success. Remember you and your horse need to be prepared for the wilderness area. So think about some of the things you may encounter while at camp or on the trail and practice them on familiar ground. Use common sense, which sometimes is not so common, and remove as many surprises for you and your horse as possible before you make your first trail ride. So where do you start?


First, for the wilderness rider--yes, that’s you--take the time to read. There are many good books, magazines, and on-line articles on trail riding, camping with pack stock, safety and trail etiquette. Reading and practical application at your home can take you from being a green horn (accident waiting to happen) to being a novice (ready for the adventure).


Second, secure a map of the area you plan to camp and ride. Make sure you know the trails designated for horses or multi-use travel. A list of horse-appropriate trails is below.  Visit the area you plan to camp/ride in (without your horse trailer attached) and drop by the local ranger station and ask about any rules or regulations that are required by equestrians during their visit. When possible, contact a group or friends that ride the area regularly and see if you can tag-a-long for a day’s ride before committing to a weekend of camping and riding. Courtesy and safety go hand in hand. When riding in a group, you are responsible for the horse and rider in front of you as well as those behind. Remember that a horse has herd instincts and anytime a rider dismounts or stops his/her horse for a drink of water, another rider should stay with them.


Third, take the time to educate your horse or mule: they like surprises a lot less than humans. So, if your horse’s world is the pasture, barn, and show ring, you need to do some ground work before taking him into the forest. For example, if you are changing equipment such as saddles, adding saddlebags, breast collar, crupper,  or equipping a horse with panniers, do it at home in familiar surroundings.


Think about what you and your horse will experience while on the trail: a high line (picket line) in camp, hobbles, cross tying on the trail, passing mountain bikers, hikers, and other horses, stepping over or jumping over logs of varying sizes, crossing streams, trail coats being whipped around and put on during a sudden down pours, the sound of a chainsaw clearing the trail ahead are all everyday event for trail horses. Again, allow your horse/mule to experience it in a controlled environment (home pasture) where their comfort range and yours will be much higher and success and confidence will follow (God willing and the creek don’t rise).



The range of equipment, supplies, and gadgets for trail riding and camping are endless as are the skills you can learn and use in the wilderness. You will need to decide which equipment is needed for the trip you are taking.  For everyone, I would highly recommend that you do not leave the trail head without a first aid kit (and the knowledge to use it) a sheath knife or pocket knife, a Bic Lighter in your pocket, and a riding helmet on your head.

Trails or portions of trails are sometimes closed for maintenance and/or seasonally, so check with the local ranger station before heading out to ride.



Special Note:  

With the growing number of trail riders comes a concern for conservation and protection of land use and the watershed you are riding through. From the first day a horseman steps his/her horse on to a National, or State Forest or Park they must be aware that they are responsible for the proper use and care of the resource. To abuse it will certainly mean we will lose the use of it.  Trail riding and camping is a fantastic experience for young and old. The only way to preserve it is to respect it and take care of it.



Tom Thomas, President Backcountry Horsemen of North Carolina a member of Backcountry Horsemen of America.

                  courtesy Backcountry Horsemen of Pisgah

Equestrian Trails by Area


DuPont State Forest

All of the trails in DuPont are available except portions of the approaches to Triple Falls and High Falls.  This means these two are partially accessible and all the others are fully accessible.

  1. Airstrip Trail
  2. Barn Trail
  3. Big Rock Trail
  4. Boundary Trail
  5. Bridal Veil Overlook Trail
  6. Bridal Veil Falls Road
  7. Briery Fork Trail
  8. Buck Forest Road
  9. Buck Ridge Road
  10. Buckhorn Creek Road
  11. Burnt Mountain Trail
  12. Camp Summit Road
  13. Cannon Creek Trail
  14. Cart Trail
  15. Cascade Trail
  16. Cedar Rock Trail
  17. Chestnut Oak Road
  18. Conservation Road
  19. Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail
  20. Covered Bridge Trail
  21. Farm House Trail
  22. Fawn Lake Road
  23. Fawn Lake Loop
  24. Flat Rock Trail
  25. Flatwoods Trail
  26. Frank Street
  27. Grassy Creek Falls Trail
  28. Grassy Creek Trail
  29. Grassy Meadow Trail
  30. Guion Trail
  31. Hickory Mountain Loop
  32. Hickory Mountain Road
  33. High Falls Trail
  34. Hill Top Trail
  35. Holly Road Trail
  36. Hooker Creek Trail
  37. Hooker Falls Road Trail
  38. Isaac Heath Trail
  39. Jim Branch Trail
  40. Joanna Road
  41. Kid’s Bike Loop at Guion Farm
  42. Lake Imaging Road
  43. Lake Julia Road
  44. Lake View Loop
  45. Laurel Ridge Trail
  46. Little River Trail
  47. Locust Trail
  48. Longside Trail
  49. Micajah Trail
  50. Mine Mountain Trail
  51. Moore Cemetery Road Trail
  52. Nooks Trail
  53. Oak Tree Trail
  54. Pine Tree Trail
  55. Pitch Pine Trail
  56. Plantation Trail
  57. Poplar Hill Loop
  58. Poplar Trail
  59. Reasonover Creek Trail
  60. Ridgeline Trail
  61. Rifle Trail
  62. River Bend Trail
  63. Rock Quarry Road
  64. Rocky Ridge Trail
  65. Sandy Trail
  66. Scarlet Oak Trail
  67. Sheep Mountain Trail
  68. Shelter Rock Trail
  69. Shoal Creek Trail
  70. Shoals Trail
  71. Shortcut Trail
  72. Stone Mountain Trail
  73. Switchback Trail
  74. Table Rock Trail
  75. Tarkiln Branch Road Trail
  76. Thomas Cemetery Road Trail
  77. Three Lakes Trail
  78. Triple Falls Trail
  79. Turkey Knob Road Trail
  80. Twin Oaks Trail
  81. Twixt Trail
  82. White Pine Loop
  83. White Pine Road Trail
  84. Wilkie Trail
  85. Wintergreen Falls Trail


Gorges State Park

  1.  Auger Hole Trail

Also, Chestnut Mountain Road accessible from the Grassy Ridge Parking Area is a great place to ride.  The Road is beyond the scope of Blue Ridge Hiker as it is not a hiking trail, but you can contact the Visitor Center for information. 

                  Chestnut Mountain Road access

                  photo by A. Scott Lavender

Pisgah Ranger District

  1. Bear Branch
  2. Big Creek
  3. Bradley Creek
  4. Buckhorn Gap
  5. Cantrell Creek
  6. Deer Lake Lodge
  7. Flat Laurel Creek
  8. Fletcher Creek Trail
  9. Graveyard Ridge Trail
  10. Hardtimes Connector
  11. Horse Cove Gap
  12. Ivestor Gap
  13. Laurel Creek
  14. Little East Fork
  15. Little Hickory Top
  16. Lower Sidehill
  17. Middle Fork
  18. Mullinax
  19. North Boundary
  20. North Mills River
  21. Riverside
  22. Sidehill
  23. Sidehill Connector
  24. South Mills River
  25. Spencer Branch
  26. Squirrel Gap
  27. Trace Ridge
  28. Wash Creek
  29. Yellow Gap

                  courtesy Backcountry Horsemen of Pisgah

Enjoy your ride!

› Equestrian Trails

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