Huge old-growth trees are the stars of the show on the beautiful Big Meadows Loop at Big Meadows Horse Camp. The towering trees provide plenty of cooling shade on a hot summer day. The North Santiam River serenades you as you ride beside it for part of the loop. There’s even a view of Three Fingered Jack at one point.
Distance: 7 miles round trip
Elevation: 3,400 to 3,900 feet
This fun loop runs through magnificent west-side forest, with massive old-growth trees beside the trail and huckleberries and vine maples in the understory. It has several water crossings, one of which has a rather challenging entry and exit. For a while, you’ll parallel the North Santiam River, and though you won’t see much of it, you’ll be able to hear it bubbling over the rocks. About half of this loop is on single-track, with the other half on forest roads.
The single track is eroded and rocky in places, and while there are no drop-offs, in a few spots the trail runs steeply up or down the hills. Because of the rocky trail, hoof protection is a must.
Big Meadows Horse Camp is a delight. Read all about it at https://nwhorsetrails.com/blogs/northwest-oregon-horse-trails/big-meadows-horse-camp.
Getting to Big Meadows Horse Camp
The camp is located about 80 miles SE of Salem, 55 miles NW of Bend, and 90 miles NE of Eugene, off Hwy. 22. Between mileposts 75 and 76, turn left on Big Meadows Road (Road 2267). Continue 1 mile, turn left on Road 2257, and drive 0.5 mile to the horse camp. Both Roads 2267 and 2257 are paved one-lane roads with occasional turnouts.
You’ll find more information about the Big Meadows Loop and other trails out of Big Meadows Horse Camp in Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2017), available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.