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Riding After a Forest Fire

It may be tempting ride out to see how your favorite trails were affected by this summer's forest fires, but don't do it!  Severe hazards lurk in newly-burned forests -- hazards that could harm you or cause your horse to break a leg.  Don't ride through a burned area until after the land manager has done the necessary restoration work.  Even then, extreme caution is required. Here are a few of the potential hazards you will encounterin a burned area:

Burned-Out Root Systems

After a fire sweeps through an area, it may continue to smolder in the roots of trees, eventually burning out the roots that run underground.  Everything looks fine from above the ground – until your horse steps in a burned-out tunnel and breaks a leg.  Burned-out roots sometimes run under trails, but they’re an even bigger risk if you ride off-trail to get around a fallen log.

Falling Snags

After a fire, the burned trees can break off in the wind and fall on you.  Don’t ride through stands of burned trees on a windy day.

Logs Across the Trail

Fallen snags can become significant trail obstacles.

Washouts and Landslides

The land may become destabilized after a fire, allowing melting snow to cause washouts and landslides.  The trail footing may become unstable and treacherous.

Signs and Bridges Destroyed

Trees aren’t the only thing that may be burned in a forest fire.  You may find that the signs and bridges you once relied upon are now gone. 

So don't ride through a burned area this year.  And if you decide to ride through a burned area next summer, use caution and don’t take foolish chances.

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