Extreme Trail Riding

On our recent trip to Washington Island, Sofie and I were on a short trail ride before dinner and decided to investigate some gravel roads. I was looking at the GPS on my phone and I could see that the gravel road lead us to a shortcut and would cut our ride time in half instead of doing a big loop.


The gravel was a little tough on the horse’s feet so we were hugging the sides of the road as much as we could. It was a gorgeous day. We were both in tank tops and sunglasses.

After walking and talking for a while, we both looked up to see that our gravel road had ended.

Confused, I referred to my phone and something wasn’t right.. it said there were roads, but apparently there weren’t any roads. Well, the woods was clear and inviting, so we decided to take a stroll to see what we could find.

We walked through the shaded woods and enjoyed the beauty that surrounded us. Nothing was around, just nature, us and our two horses.

Soon, we came upon another road that seemed abandoned and was overgrown. We followed it and it seemed to match up to a road on my phone that we were suppose to follow: the shortcut. We happily followed our new road and had to dodge some sticks and branches as they came flying past us.


There was talking, silence, joking, you know.. just enjoying the moment.

Then, we looked up again to see giant trees that had fallen across the road. It almost seemed like someone was logging, but never picked up the fallen timber. These trees were huge and I wasn’t too sure that Charm and Bella would have been able to safely navigate them.

Referring to my phone again I saw the main road we needed to get to, wasn’t that far away, so we decided to dive into the woods again and attempt to bushwhack our way through it.

It started out okay, but soon the woods got thick with various heights of footing and fallen timber scattered randomly around us.


You want me to walk through this??

Now what?

I felt we were too far in at this point to turn back. Plus when looking at the map, the road we needed to get to didn’t seem that far away, so we kept going.

We were jumping fallen tree trunks, stepping over fallen brush, climbing small rocky hills. I kept having visions that I was with Man Tracker and was looking for the prey! But no, we were just somewhat lost in the middle of the woods on Washington Island.


Those are some tall trunks!


Charm was content to take a break with her feet down in a little hole.


Sofie was getting a little too adventurous!


HUGE uprooted tree that had pulled up some stone with it. Kinda freaky.

After things got really thick, we both eventually jumped off and led the horses through. Since we were just going for a leisurely ride, we had both just had our lead ropes and halters on the horses, which was perfect since we were asking them to navigate such compromising terrain. Now we could easily lead them through without possibly getting a bridle stuck on a branch or something like that.


Is this ridge possibly part of the Niagara Escarpment?

It seemed to go on and on forever. But I think since we had to find horse friendly spots to cross the fallen trees and massive piles of brush, it just took longer than it would have if we were just on foot.

I think the most frustrating thing was that we could hear cars going by on the road.. it wasn’t far away at all, but we just couldn’t seem to get there. Every time we had to go around a fallen tree, we would end up going south or west when we needed to keep heading east.


Ugh, yes we made our way through this somehow.. We have the world’s best horses!

Finally, which seemed like an eternity, we saw a car through the trees.. the road! It wasn’t a straight shot out of the woods yet, but at least we could see the light at the end of the tunnel.


It cleared out just before we found the road. This was a little more swampy.

Finally we got to the road and breathed a sigh of relief. We both got dismounted our horses and looked them over for wounds and cuts. Charm had one one her hind end, but it was nothing serious, just a scrape.

We ate a snack that we had packed and followed the newly blacktopped road north on the shore and took another stop at a beach. Of course we had to run the horses on the sandy beach and take a few pictures.


The east beach… finally! Only a little over a mile until home.

Then we headed back to camp, tired and sweaty. We earned our showers and also a delicious dinner of odds and ends plus a delightful and entertaining night out at the Fiddlers Green with some fellow camping horse friends.

I’ll never forget this day and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat!


8 thoughts on “Extreme Trail Riding

  1. My adrenaline kicked in as I was reading this. I’ve been there, on foot though, you take a different path and you get sorta lost but keep going, the adventure. Will have to do on horseback someday! It was fun to keep reading too because at the start of your journey I was timid at the idea of leaving the road but as you ventured further and further into the woods my adventure kicked in and I said”let’s do thins(in my head)” and I was along for the rest of the ride with you. Maybe I just picked up on your excitement? Anyway, way cool, exciting, little scary, satisfying to read.

    (you’ll have to pack some Purishield next time for her scratches;)

    • I’m glad you could relate to the story. It was hard to capture what it was really like out there on just my camera phone. But us standing next to that uprooted tree gives you an idea of how huge these trees were. Charm and Bella were both so calm and collected through the whole adventure. Sofie and I were both very impressed with them. πŸ™‚ Purishield, yes!

  2. Wow! This story is better than the book I’m reading! What a wonderful adventure for your fun memories. My favorite of your comments is “We have the world’s best horses”, which could also be a comment on their trainers :-)!

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