Sam Brown Horse Camp, located 29 miles west of Grants Pass, is nestled between steep ridges in the beautiful and historical Briggs Valley.
In the 1850s and 1860s, the Briggs Valley was a hotbed of gold mining activity. The town of Briggs was just down the road from where the horse camp is today. It boasted a hotel, bars, and a brothel. The horse camp and nearby family campground got their names from a headstone found nearby that simply reads, “Sam Brown.”
40+ miles of riding
Elevation 2,000 feet
You’ll find plenty of riding near Sam Brown Horse Camp. For example, the Briggs Creek Trail follows its namesake stream and takes you past two old mining sites.
The Dutchy Creek Trail traverses the side of a steep hillside above Dutchy Creek. It climbs steadily to the top of Chrome Ridge, where you’ll find panoramic views of the surrounding hills.
The Onion Way Trail was once the route that miners traveled to get from the Briggs Valley to the mines along Onion Creek. It runs through pretty meadows filled with seasonal wildflowers, and through lush forest that offers welcome shade on a hot day.
The Secret Way Trail gains 600 feet of elevation as it climbs a ridge, offering good views from the top.
The Taylor Creek Trail runs 10.25 miles one way, following Taylor Creek from the Briggs Valley toward Merlin. From Sam Brown Horse Camp, it’s a nice ride to Lone Tree Pass. If you like, you can continue beyond the pass and explore the steep valley carved by Taylor Creek.
Sam Brown Horse Camp has seven sites with 2- or 4-horse corrals, plus a vault toilet, potable water from a hand pump, picnic tables, and fire pits. There is a fee for overnight camping, but reservations are not required. The horse camp is open from late spring through fall.
From Grants Pass, take I-5 north for 3 miles to the Merlin exit (Exit 61). Turn west on the Merlin-Galice Road toward the town of Merlin. Continue for 12.2 miles and turn left on Taylor Creek Road (Road 25). This paved one-lane road (with occasional turnouts for downhill traffic) winds steeply up over Lone Tree Pass and down into the Briggs Valley. After 13.5 miles, turn right on Road 2512 and cross the bridge to the horse camp.
You’ll find more information about Sam Brown Horse Camp in Riding Southern Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2017), available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.