If you’d like some excellent horseback riding with views of the fascinating volcanic forces that shaped Central Oregon, then a trip to Newberry National Volcanic Monument is a must. The trails are delightfully horse friendly, with manageable elevation changes, stunning views, and no drop-offs anywhere.
Newberry Crater was formed when its namesake volcano blew its top, much like Crater Lake did. And like its more-famous cousin to the south, Newberry Crater gradually filled with water, forming Paulina Lake and East Lake in the bottom of the caldera.
The trails at Newberry explore the crater floor, make a 25-mile loop around the crater rim, and connect the upper and lower trails with tie trails that radiate out like the spokes on a wheel. The result is an assortment of delightful loops of varying lengths and difficulties. Every trail offers panoramic 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.
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.
You can ride along beautiful Paulina Creek, the crater’s only outlet, enjoying the riparian wildflowers and stopping to ogle Paulina Falls, a double waterfall that drops 80 feet over a basalt ledge. Impressive!
And be sure to take the Crater Trail over to Paulina Lake Resort for lunch or dinner at the resort’s restaurant. The food is delicious and the lake views are relaxing. (Then, when you get home, rent the movie “Wild” again – it was partially filmed here.)
Yes, indeed, a trip to Chief Paulina Horse Camp is a memorable experience. You’ve got to go!
Chief Paulina Horse Camp (pronounced Paul-EYE-nah) is located at the base of Newberry Crater. It has 14 campsites with corrals, fire rings, and picnic tables. The camp also features stock water, a toilet, and a manure bin.
The trails out of Chief Paulina Horse Camp are covered in Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, available at www.NWHorseTrails.com.