Chief Paulina (pronounced Paul-EYE-nah) Horse Camp, located in the Newberry Crater National Monument about 25 miles south of Bend, is a great place for a horse camping trip. Here are 7 reasons why you’ll want to go:
1. Horse-Friendly Trails
The various trails at Newberry explore the crater floor, make a 25-mile loop around the crater rim, and connect the upper and lower trails using tie trails that radiate out like the spokes on a wheel. The result: delightful loops of varying lengths and difficulties. While the trails gain elevation as they climb to the crater rim, you won’t find any steep drop-offs or shale. The footing is volcanic pumice, which can be dusty in late summer but offers great footing for horses.
2. Spectacular Views
The crater rim offers panoramic views of Paulina and East Lakes below you, as well as Paulina Peak and North Paulina Peak on the caldera’s rim. The Three Sisters and the rest of the Cascades range dominate the western horizon. From a couple of vantage points you can even see Fort Rock in the desert to the south.
3. A Volcanic Extravaganza
Newberry Crater was formed when Newberry Volcano blew its top, much like Crater Lake’s Mt. Mazama did. And like its more-famous cousin to the south, Newberry’s crater gradually filled with water, forming Paulina Lake and East Lake in the bottom of the caldera. You’ll get a close-up look at the recent (in geologic terms) Big Obsidian Flow, which sparkles in the sunlight because of the chunks of black obsidian embedded in the lava.
4. A Double Waterfall
Paulina Falls is a pretty double falls that plunges 80 feet off a basalt ledge. You can visit it by riding a few miles from camp on the Peter Skene Ogden Trail. Tie your horse to a tree and walk out to the overlook for a birds-eye view.
5. Good Eating
You can ride your horse to Paulina Lake Resort, a few miles from camp, and enjoy delicious food and pretty views of the lake. The resort even provides a hitching rail for the horses. (And when you go home, be sure to rent the movie “Wild” again. Part of it was filmed at the resort!)
6. No Crowds
While the nearby Cascade Mountains are struggling to cope with overuse, the crowds don’t seem to have discovered Newberry Crater. Bikes are allowed on the trails, but you won’t see many of them, and since the trails have no water you won’t see many backpackers, either. Most of the time, you’ll have the trails to yourself.
7. Newly-Refurbished Campsites
Until this year, Chief Paulina had mostly small campsites that couldn’t accommodate today’s larger trailers. Last fall, the Forest Service expanded some campsites and made others into roadside pull-throughs. The horse camp offers day-use parking as well as overnight accommodations complete with stock water, corrals, toilet, and manure bin.
You can learn more about Chief Paulina Horse Camp in Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, available at www.NWHorseTrails.com. Happy Trails!