Next summer’s camping season may be a long way off, but it’s never too early to start planning. If you want to try someplace new in Central Oregon, take a look at Cultus Corral Horse Camp. Located near Cultus Lake in the Cascades Lake District west of Mt. Bachelor, the trails near Cultus Corral are all about the lakes. The terrain is easy and the scenery is beautiful. For instance:
The Winopee Tie Trail #16.5 takes you from Cultus Corral to Cultus Lake and connects to the Winopee Trail #16.
Once you’re on the Winopee Trail, you can ride along the shore of Cultus Lake.
Or you can ride a 13.5-mile round trip to the Teddy Lakes (there two of them).
You can continue on to picturesque Muskrat Lake, with its derelict forest shelter. Some years this shallow lake is nearly dry…
other years the lake is huge.
You can ride all the way to Winopee Lake (it’s 22 miles round trip from Cultus Corral), or you can trailer to the Winopee Trailhead so the round trip will only be 16.5 miles. Either way, Winopee Lake is a fabulous ride.
Or you can take the Winopee Tie Trail to the shore of Cultus Lake, tie your horses, and have a very good restaurant meal at Cultus Lake Resort.
From Cultus Corral, if you pick up the Benchmark Butte Trail #8.5, you can ride over the shoulder of Benchmark Butte.
You can do a 15-mile loop that takes you to Corral Swamp, past both of the Corral Lakes, and back along the shore of Cultus Lake.
Or you can trailer a few miles to Little Cultus Campground (use the campground road to turn around and park on the side of Road 4630) for a delightful 11.5-mile loop through the Many Lakes Basin.
And from Little Cultus Campground you can ride a wide forest road (not suitable for trailers) for a 12-mile round trip to the pretty Irish and Taylor Lakes.
While some of these rides may seem a bit long, the terrain is horse-friendly, the trails are relatively easy, and there’s little elevation change. And with so many trails to choose from, you’ll have no difficulty filling a long weekend with fabulous rides at Cultus Corral.
Note that fallen trees across the trail can be an issue early in the season. Call the Crescent Ranger District at the Deschutes National Forest (541-433-3200) to make sure the trails you want to ride have been logged out.
Getting to Cultus Corral: From Bend, drive south on Hwy. 97 for 16 miles. Take Exit 153 and head west on Hwy. 40. In 21 miles, turn left on Hwy. 46 and drive 1.2 miles, then turn right on Road 4635 toward Cultus Lake Resort. In 0.7 mile, turn right on Road 4630. The horse camp is on the right in 1.1 miles. The route is well signed. Alternatively, you can take Hwy. 46 (the Cascades Lake Hwy.) past Mt. Bachelor to Road 4635 and follow the directions above.
Season: Summer through fall.
Parking and Camping Facilities: 11 campsites with 4-horse corrals.
Volunteers from Oregon Equestrian Trails’ Mid Valley chapter have replaced some of the log corrals at the camp with very nice steel corrals, and the plan is to replace more corrals each year. All sites are level and back-in, and most have room for 2 trailers. Cultus Corral has stock water from a pump, a vault toilet, and a manure bin, plus day-use parking for 8-10 trailers. Fee for overnight camping; Northwest Forest Pass required for day use. No reservations needed.
For More Information: See the Cultus Corral chapter of Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, Ponderosa Press, 2012).