“Hi ladies!” the bicyclist called out as he approached. “Aren’t these views glorious?” We were riding the Surveyors Ridge Trail north of Gibson Prairie Horse Camp on a sunny weekend, and we’d encountered over a dozen mountain bike riders so far that day. All of them seemed genuinely happy to be sharing the trails with us.
Yes, the Surveyors Ridge Trail is popular with mountain bike riders. But the things that make it a great bike trail also make it a fabulous equestrian trail: eye-popping views of Mt. Hood and the Hood River Valley, beautiful forest with a unique blend of species from the rainy and arid sides of Oregon, and moderate elevation changes.
The Surveyors Ridge Trail runs 16 miles along its namesake ridge. The best way for equestrians to reach it is from Gibson Prairie Horse Camp, which lies at the base of the ridge’s eastern flank about midway along its length. From there, you can ride north or south on the Surveyors Ridge Trail, or you can ride other nearby trails that are not open to mountain bikes.
To ride the Surveyors Ridge Trail northbound from Gibson Prairie Horse Camp, ride out to Road 17 (the road you drove in on) and turn left. In 200 feet, turn right on a short connector trail that will take you onto Surveyors Ridge. In 0.1 mile, turn right on the Surveyors Ridge Trail #688. Depending on how far you follow this out-and-back trail, you'll enjoy several impressive viewpoints along the way.
A Quick Note About Meeting Bikes on the Trail
On some terrain (like that on Surveyors Ridge), it may be easier for equestrians to step off the trail than for bicyclists. Yes, we know, proper trail etiquette dictates that bikes yield to horses. However, for bicyclists to do that, they have to dismount, step off the trail, and lift their bikes into the brush. Instead, if you can easily step your horse off the trail and allow the bicyclists to ride by, they will appreciate the courtesy. Then the next time they meet equestrians on rougher terrain where the horses can’t easily get off the trail, they won’t mind so much the inconvenience of getting off the trail for the horses to pass safely. (Be sure to thank the cyclists for stopping when they saw you and for asking if it was OK before they rode past you.)
Gibson Prairie Horse Camp
Gibson Prairie has four campsites, three of which have four-horse corrals. Stock water is available from a trough 250 yards southeast of the campground. The camp also has a vault toilet, manure bin, fire pits, and picnic tables. The horse camp is free of charge because the Back Country Horsemen of Oregon maintain it.
The Surveyors Ridge Trail North is covered in the Gibson Prairie Horse Camp chapter of Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails by Kim McCarrel, available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.