There’s a new horse camp at Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park! Well, not exactly brand new, but since it just opened last summer and I hadn’t been there yet, it was brand new to me. Locals have enjoyed the excellent trails at Kanipe Park for years, and now we out-of-towners have a place to camp so we can enjoy the trails, too.
Mildred Kanipe Park, located off I-5 between Eugene and Roseburg, Oregon, features over 15 miles of horse trails that explore the hills above Bachelor Creek.
The park’s new horse camp is situated in an open, grassy meadow, and you’ll find it has excellent amenities. All fifteen of the sites are pull-throughs, and all have 2- or 4-horse steel corrals.
Each site has a spigot with potable water (from a well) and another spigot next to the corral with stock water from the creek. The camp has picnic tables and fire rings, of course, plus a vault toilet, garbage cans, and manure bins. The only thing the new camp lacks is shade, and that’s coming: park officials will be planting trees in the fall of 2016 or spring of 2017.
You will love the trail riding at Kanipe Park. Five main loop trails fan out in roughly the shape of a five-leaf clover, so you can enjoy rides of whatever length you like. The loops are all color-coded and signed with colored diamonds painted on the tree trunks along the route.
In addition, there’s an entire network of secondary trails that bisect the main loops. Though these trails are unsigned, they all connect with the five main color-coded loops so it’s pretty tough to get lost.
As you ride along, you’ll travel through the largest oak savannah in the state, through stands of mature Douglas-firs (don’t miss the beautiful forest at the north end of the Fern Woods loop), along creeks, and up and down the low hills.
With the exception of a couple of steep spots on the Underhill Loop, the main loops are all easy trails. The secondary trails can be a little more challenging, with steeper hills and less-defined tread. Please note that Kanipe Park has poison oak, so keep a sharp eye out.
Mildred Kanipe Park is only open to horses from March 16 through October 31, so if you plan to go this fall you’ll need to make plans pronto. (Note that there’s no hunting here, so Mildred Kanipe Park is a great place to ride during hunting season.) Or plan ahead for next spring’s horseback adventure. Either way, Mildred Kanipe Park is not to be missed.
Getting There: From Eugene, follow I-5 south for 53 miles and take Exit 140 (Oakland). Follow Hwy. 99 for 1.1 mile to Oakland and turn left on Oak St. From Roseburg, follow 1-5 north for 13 miles and take Exit 138 (Oakland). Merge onto Stearns Lane and follow it 1.4 miles. Turn left on Hwy. 99, and in 0.1 mile turn right on Oak St. All, Oak Street soon becomes Driver Valley Road. Follow it for 4 miles, then turn left on Elkhead Road and continue 3 miles to the park.
Fees: Fee for overnight camping or for day use
Season: March 31 through October 31
Camping Facilities: 15 horse sites with 2- or 4-horse steel corrals with tarp rails. All sites are level pull-throughs, and all have potable water (from a well) and stock water (from Bachelor Creek) at each campsite, plus fire rings and picnic tables. The camp has a vault toilet, garbage cans, and manure bins. Huge equestrian parking area with toilet, stock water in season, group shelter with picnic tables.
More Information: The trails out of Santiam Horse Camp are covered in more detail in Riding Southern Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2014).