Grassy meadows, park-like ponderosa pine forest, and tiny creeks are the hallmarks of the Coyle Butte Loop at Corral Flat. Located in Central Oregon’s Ochoco Mountains, this fun ride offers something new around every corner.
Difficulty: Moderate—the trail is easy and well-defined in most spots, but the route is unsigned so a map and GPS or compass will come in handy.
Elevation: 4,600 to 5,550 feet
Distance: 10 miles round trip
At Corral Flat, pick up the trail next to the kiosk. It takes you across beautiful meadows that boast wildflowers in early summer and green grass well into August. You’ll travel past huge ponderosas with their thick reddish bark. (Sniff a ponderosa up close, and you’ll catch the unmistakable scent of vanilla.) You can expect to see small bands of cows grazing in the lush meadows. (If you come to a closed gate, be sure to shut it behind you to keep the cows where they belong.)
The route runs partially on single-track and partly on dirt roads, and the junctions aren’t signed so you’ll need to keep a sharp eye out. Cow trails also lace the area, but you’ll do OK if you stay on the trails that look the most heavily used. Someone has sprayed a dab of white paint on trees along the trail, so watch for the white paint to help you stay on the right route. A map is essential, and a compass or GPS will be helpful.
Dispersed camping (dry camping) is available at Corral Flat. It has no toilets, no corrals, and no water nearby. Bring everything you and your horse will need.
From Prineville, take Hwy. 26 east for 29 miles. Just after the 48-mile post, turn right on Road 2630 toward Marks Creek Sno-Park. Drive 1.9 miles and turn right on Road 201, a dirt road that runs beside a large meadow bordered by a rail fence. Continue 0.1 mile to the parking/camping area.
You’ll find more information about the Coyle Butte Loop and other trails near Corral Flat in Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2018), available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.