|Wild Mare Horse Camp.|
On my way there I stopped at Baker Beach outside of Florence, I was going to ride for a day and then possibly spend one night there, but when I pulled in, all the camp spots were full. I've stayed at Baker before and at the time it wasn't that busy, but now there is a camp host and a lot of non horse people camped there. When I was there before, I didn't ride on the beach that much or on the little inland loops because I spent more time on the Cape Mountain Trails. To read about my trip in 2014: Baker Beach
I tacked up and rode on the little loop past Lily Lake, then over to the Berry Creek Trail and then I randomly followed a trail inland that eventually became very soggy, so I turned around, took the trail onto the beach and headed south.
I rode until I reached the first of the houses along the shore and then headed back. At one point I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and when I looked to my right, a bald eagle was flying right beside me at my level, he dropped down to the beach, grabbed a dead critter and took off again with a couple of crows harassing him.
Arriving back at the camp I saw that all the spots were still occupied, so I did the hour drive south over to Wild Mare Horse Camp.
|A few riders from C&M Stables on Baker Beach.|
|Riding on Baker Beach.|
Wild Mare is part of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and is one of the nicest beach horse camps I have ever seen, with 12 paved spots that have either log or steel corrals. There are two bathrooms, two manure bins, a day use area, potable water from spigots (although you cannot attach a hose to them) and garbage cans. They are all back-in spots and # 6 has the most room for an especially large rig. It is $22.00 per night and is a reservation camp, but at this time of the year it is first come first serve, and although there were a few people there the first night, they all left the following day.
In mid October the last thing I was expecting to see were mosquito's but there were a number of lethargic ones flying around half heartedly. There are bat boxes set up throughout the camp for this purpose.
There is a plaque in the camp dedicated to the wild mare who used to roam free amongst the dunes. The plaque has conflicting dates/timelines to the history I read online about her. Apparently she was not actually turned loose on purpose, she escaped as a two year old, and although many people tried, no one could ever catch her again, so there she remained for 32 years....and became a local legend, hence the name of the camp.
|Wild Mare Horse Camp.|
|The plaque dedicated to the wild mare.|
On my first day I took the Wild Mare Trail from camp that leads to the ocean and rode north along the beach...... and rode and rode and rode! You can definitely ride for many miles this way, but the scenery is not particularly varied. Eventually I went inland for a little while and rode on a few of the OHV trails as well.
|On the Wild Mare Trail.|
|A natural tunnel on the Wild Mare Trail.|
|Just over the hill to the ocean.|
|Rode on a few inland OHV trails briefly.|
|A beautiful day on the beach.|
|Sandpipers are always entertaining.|
|At the signage for the North Jetty.|
|On the North Jetty.|
|The Cape Arago Lighthouse was visible in the distance.|
From the jetty I rode back along Bayside Rd. (which is underwater at high tide) until I got to the Gray Trail then followed the South Loop to the Bunker Trails. The trails are well marked and the junctions have maps so you can tell exactly where you are. The southern side of the North Spit Trails are forested and there is a World War II bunker to check out. Just after examining the bunker I rode into some deeper woods and as I looked ahead on the trail, I saw a bear. I saw him a millisecond before he saw me, at which point he left in a hurry. If anyone had asked me recently how often I see bear while riding or hiking I would have said rarely, but this is the third bear I have seen in the space of a month, all in completely different locations!
|The North Spit Trails are well marked.|
|The World War II bunker.|
|On the North Spit Trails.|
|On the North Spit Trails, just before the bear sighting.|
I then rode along the Dune Trails, on the north side of the spit, and at times you need to keep an eye out for the markers in the distance, since the trails become harder to see.
|On the Dune Trails.|
The following day was misty and cloudy, I thought about doing a short ride from the day use area, since there are other inland trails leaving from the camp, but they are pretty deep sand and my horse had spent enough time slogging through the stuff already. So I drove on home, very pleased that I had had three nice weather days in a row, which can be a rarity. Apparently a storm came through right after I left.
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