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Sam Brown Horse Camp

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.”Sam Brown Horse Camp

Stopping for lunch along the Onion Way Trail.

Moderate trails

40+ miles of riding

Elevation 2,000 feet

The Riding

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.Sam Brown Horse Camp

Crossing Briggs Creek on the Briggs Creek Trail.

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.Sam Brown Horse Camp

The view from Chrome Ridge, on the Dutchy Creek Trail.

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.Sam Brown Horse Camp

On the Onion Way Trail,

The Secret Way Trail gains 600 feet of elevation as it climbs a ridge, offering good views from the top.Sam Brown Horse Camp

The Secret Way Trail takes you to the top of a ridge.

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

The Taylor Creek Trail, on the way to Lone Tree Pass.

The Camping

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.Sam Brown Horse Camp

The horses relax at Sam Brown Horse Camp.

Getting There

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.

Learn More

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.

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